(1311-05-02) Day of Shemhazai: Damaging Rumors
Summary: Belmont and Cedoric discuss the validity and sense of duel regulations at the Le Requin Club.
RL Date: May 18-27, 2019
Related: This, and the Days of the Companions, as general backdrop.
cedoric belmont 

Le Requin — Grand Plaza

An archway connects the entrance hall to the parlour, a large chamber with a high rounded ceiling. Looming there above the proceedings within the club is a fresco, a depiction of Naamah and Eisheth engaged in a playful dance within an idyllic scenery, on a clearing between flowers and bushes. Walls are covered with wine red damask of golden ornaments, and gilded pillars with capitals of stylized alcanthus leaves frame the archways leading in and out of this chamber. One side is governed by a huge hearth of red marble, where two sculptures of graceful and scarcely clad maidens playfully sit on the two sides of the mantlepiece. They are adequately lit during the day by the three large windows in the opposite wall, each framed with heavy dark red curtains that can be drawn at night. On evenings and late nights, two chandeliers suspended from the ceiling shed light with their many candles, lighting enhanced when needed by a number of oil lamps at the walls and others that have been placed on the side tables.

Comfortable couches and chairs of dark cherry wood and red upholstery have been scattered in small groups about tables throughout the parlor, and to the far end there is even a table for playing cards or dice when in need of diversion. The archway on the far side opens towards the spiral stairway to the upper floor, and a door leads out to the inner courtyard or atrium. Beside that door, framed in gold, the rules of the club are listed for everyone to see (type +requin/help for an overview of available commands).

Belmont can be found in the main parlor of the Le Requin club today. Not much had been seen of him outside of it, to be honest. As of his new duty as leader of a gentlemen's club were claiming all of his attention. There certainly had been enough matters to occupy him lately. The hour is progressing towards late morning, and the young vicomte has the spacious room for himself. An attendant had provided him with a pot of tea, the cup poured but untouched for now. Belmont wears doublet and breeches in the black and purple of his House by marriage, and he seems to be in thoughts, gaze turned towards one of the windows, elbow sitting on the armrest, index finger touching against the tip of his nose.

Late morning is, of course, a matter of perspective. Cedoric himself is rarely alive this early in the day, but, when he is, he's in for tea at Le Requin to chase away the groggy lull of his eyelids. He's dressed casually, but with enough style that one is hardly apt to call him on it, and if his hair looks like he's just rolled out of bed, well, it always looks charming that way, gives him that contented just-fucked look that is a major component of his attraction for les femmes. "Oh, hallo, coz. Is it a two-pot-of-tea morning as yet?" he asks with that boyish smile of his.

The arrival of his relative manages to drag Belmont out of his current contemplations. Handsome features warm in a smile as he moves to stand, just for that required coz-hug. The question has Belmont turn his gaze towards the tea, and a slightly distracted "Yes, I would think so," can mean anything, from admission to invitation to share. "How have you been, Ced? I imagine, you are intending to miss tonight'S rhetorics at the Temple of Shemhazai, just like myself?" There is a hint of honest humor there, in the way he voices the half-question.

Cedoric opens his arms wide to welcome Belmont in for the hug and then wrap his arms about him with a few hearty claps and a mild rock-to-and-fro before he releases him again and melts down into a set near where Belmont had been seated, looking as though he migh fall back asleep, "Then let us make it one," he agrees, thereby and with a gesture of his hand ordering up a second pot of tea for the table. "Hah — pf — well! I should think so! I would hate to applaud at the wrong time and prove myself a dunce," he scoff-laughs at the coz' second question, then comes to the first, "Oh, I'm well. And what about you, hum? Is club ownership all that you had dreamed?"

"Have you had a hard night?", Belmont cannot help but ask with a hint of mischief in his eyes. "Well. It certainly isn't to be hanging around and listen to scholarly types holding lectures. Club ownership…" He snorts, and there is a bit of resignation in that snort. "It's not like I *own* the club. I run it. And Companions. Seems we have already our first scandal at our hands."

"No, only a hard morning. You see, the sun was up and compelled me to be from the comfort of my bedding," Cedo explains. "Well, club runner-ship, then," he stifles a yawn and settles in comfortably. "Yes— I was talking to a couple of nice fellows about that the other day, in fact," he notes. "I can't help to think it's put them off the place. More or less because they said that it had," he adds, in fact.

"Why?", Belmont leans closer, elbows sliding forward on the armrests, forehead wrinkling with concern. "No one got killed at Le Requin. There was a duel, yes. A few days before Lord Victor vanished. But it was carried out in strictly keeping to the rules of the club. To the first blood. But yes… I understand that people like to see a connection, when there most probably is. Thing is, that Lord Maxence vanished as well." He sighs, reclining against the backrest, looking a touch cornered by the circumstances. "Nothing we can tell the public will be likely to sway their opinion. But we have rules here, and none of them were violated, within the club."

"It may not stand to the requisite logic of— oh, thank heavens," the tea's come, and Cedoric is contented by that occurrance when it somes to it. "It may not stand to the standards of tonight's debate, but if fellows are scuffling here and it comes to blood in the streets, I don't see why you wouldn't come to such a conclusion. Couldn't I beseech you to look into changing the rules of the club? We should be a brotherhood, here, and.. you know, all of that." It's too early for oratory, and he has no gift for it, anyhow. "And besides, if we were to be rid of the duelling here, it would send a loud message to the town that that's not, you know. Us."

"We aren't a duelling club," Belmont clarifies, as if needing to stress that particular point. "These rules have been set by the man who founded Le Requin. And I can see sense in there, to deal with immediate concerns in a manner as efficient and unbloody as possible." His grey-blue eyes flicker a little. "The dispute was settled within the club. To remove that particular rule would… in a way be admission that we, Le Requin, are to blame. Which we are not. I'm not sure it would be the right signal to send. But rather… if you say that your friends are now disposed against considering our club, you could bring them here, and we can try to make clear that we are not about violence." A faint smile settles on his features. "A brotherhood, yes. We are."

"I know that we aren't. And I said that we aren't. But as long as this is the point of reference for the narrative in the city, we are, no matter if we say it a hundred times," Cedoric reasons, after his own, less sophisticated fashion. "I don't know, perhaps the entire thing will fade in time and we won't have to worry about it in future. But if we are not a duelling club, what harm is there to making duelling against the rules? Why not settle arguments with, say… a drinking contest, first man under the table loses? Or just a swift hug and a talking-it-out?"

"It would change the original concept of what Gisbert Trevalion de Mereliot had in mind," Belmont counters. "It could also be taken as admission, that what happened was due to our current rules. The rule about dueling is a quick way to settle disputes. But… perhaps. We should discuss this with our other members. Hugs, drinking contests and talking it out are no alternatives in case of true discord within our club." He lifts his shoulders in a light shrug. "Perhaps. Perhaps we should help disperse this particular rumor by becoming more active. By using this club in the manner it is meant to be used. Fetes and evenings of gambling and drinking games." The smile deepens a fraction, before it fades. "Lord Victor was a cousin to Gabrielle. This whole matter affects me as it affects her. I've lost family."

"I'd think that as far as the discord were concerned, the use of blade and spilling of blood would only augment its stature rather than diminish it at all. And also recall that on its original charter this place lay dormant and unused for so long— maybe a change isn't all that poor a plan? Is your mind so set against any modification?" Cedoric probes but gently, easing back and holding his tea closeby to him. "Ah — coz —" he bites his lower lip at the mourning caused in Belmont's household by the event. "Well — there, there," he tries to apply something comforting. "How is she managing?"

Belmont sighs, and for a moment there is a bit of resignation flickering in his grey-blue eyes. "You don't get it, don't you? However the 'discord' would have been resolved, what tells us, that poor Victor wouldn't have suffered his eventual fate anyway. There was something awry between him and Lord Maxence… A grudge, strong enough to carry beyond the walls of this club…" A light shrug of his shoulders follows. "Maybe you are right though. Maybe we need to rephrase the rules of Le Requin and remove that passage about discord altogether. It does put those unskilled in wielding a blade at a disadvantage. I would suggest that this should be a topic we should discuss at a meeting of members." See? Finally, Belmont seems to cave in at least a little to the reasoning of his cousin. Giving him a wide-eyed stare — after all there is mourning that complicates things even further. "Gabrielle is devastated. And I fear that she, just like you, is quick to put blame onto the club. Maybe this is why I am reluctant to change anything about our rules at Le Requin. Because she is pressuring me to do so, and this is not her business." A stubborn look flashes in his mien. "This is not the fault of the Club, nor is it mine…"

"No, I don't think so," is a quick murmur into his tea when Cedo admits to his coz that he probably doesn't get it, after all. "Ah, yes, please do— put it before the membership and we'll see what everybody thinks. And maybe we can all put in and do something for Gabrielle, too — just, you know, by way of a token of condolence? I don't mean to say that you or anyone other than Lord Maxence is to blame, of course, coz."

"Even that is something that will need to be proved," Belmont replies to Cedoric. "All we know, is that Lord Maxence and Victor were at odds. That Lord Maxence has vanished… well it makes him definitely a suspect, but it could be all coincidence. As for a token of condolence… I'm not sure, the club as a whole should get involved in such a way. It feels like an admission of guilt… like a first step on a road that will lead to forcing me out of Le Requin, and back to former insignificance. You may write to her, if you like, but it would be a personal gesture, she will appreciate nonetheless."

"Forcing you out, though? Is she trying to compel you to leave it alone?" Cedoric seems faintly alarmed by the notion, though the tea is calming him substantially. "Oh, you know how well I am at writing letters, coz, it's a terror. I'd have to have someone else pen one for me and put my signature to it," he shakes his head.

"No. No, she isn't," Belmont contradicts, shaking his head. "But she could. She could ask this of me. Ask me to admit that this whole project of mine has been nothing but a whim, and that I should focus on supporting her… Ah… I should perhaps." The day seems to have found the young vicomte in a dark mood. Even so, Cedoric's admission about his writing abilities draws a chuckle from Belmont. "A scribe? You have a scribe then? Or is it that you rarely write letters?", he quips. "Write to her. She will appreciate it. And I… I will travel back to Aix in a day or two from now. Gabrielle needs me to be at her side, now more than ever. I will try to return to Marsilikos as soon as possible. Then I will be able to tell for sure, how much of my time I will still be able to devote to the club. We should have a members meeting then, to discuss the regulations of Le Requin, and whether some of them should be changed. I am merely running the club, but that doesn't make me dictate the rules if the majority should find them to be outdated and potentially dangerous."

Cedoric looks a little bit better put at ease to know Gabrielle is not — yet — putting any pressure on Belmont to give up the project. He crosses one ankle over the other knee and settles back with a shift of a shoulder, shifting in an easy restlessness. "Oh, no— my handwriting is well and my orthography… servicable, my only problem in writing letters is knowing what to say in them. Really, I need to be someone else's scribe, is the true point I'm trying to make. Still, do give her my best when you see her again. And while you're away I suppose I will have to look after the sideboards here and make certain they don't go awry?" he lifts his voice in a mild joke.

Cedoric's honesty when describing his defect manages to bring back a certain lightness into the exchange, however gloomy Belmont might appear at the moment. "I shall remember that, next time I need to write a letter, on official business," the young vicomte declares. "My handwriting is passable, it has never been of much interest to me. Whereas I have always spent more time on improving my skill with the blade… At least this Gabrielle may draw comfort from, that the unpleasant business of her cousin's death will remove me in time from Marsilikos, preventing me to take part in the duel contest of the Day of Camael…" This another sting to an already battered ego. "I shall pass on your condolences to her though, and well… there is our staff. But I'd appreciate if you could have an eye on things, while I'm away…"

"At your service as ever, coz," Cedo grins, tidying off that first cup of tea and setting it down in order to pour another. "Oh, yes, you don't be fighting, then," he pouts a little bit. "Well, neither will I, if that stands any comfort to you. Here, have a bit more tea, and let's talk about something else," he rather ham-fistedly pushes the conversation elsewhere.

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