(1311-05-15) Dreadful News
Summary: Boniface prowls the palace in search of a good game of cards, only to receive a dreadful piece of news…
RL Date: 15/05/2019
Related: Day of Elua: Closing Feast.
garance boniface 

Garance’s Chambers — Ducal Palace

One comes first into an ordinary chamber in the Dome of the Lady, decorated some years ago in impersonal good taste and Mereliot fish motifs, sparsely furnished at present. Several high casement windows recessed into the wall across from the door provide ample light from an inner courtyard; in front of them stands a large desk with a leatherbound chair behind it and two smaller and plainer chairs before it, rendering this more a study than a sitting-room. Against the wall on the far left is a long sofa upholstered in slightly worn dark green velvet; opposite, to the right, double doors lead into an adjoining chamber. Just beyond them a fireplace mirrors and shares a chimney with an identical hearth next door.

The only individual touch lent by the study's occupant to distinguish it from a dozen or a hundred other such chambers is a red and white 'broken' tulip in a pretty blue and white porcelain pot with touches of gilding. It sits usually on one of the broad windowsills, but it has been known to migrate to the desk.

The connected bedchamber has likewise been pared down to the essentials: a tester bed hung about with fish tapestries, a table beside it, a pair of armoires set at either side of an uncluttered washstand. There is no looking-glass. Everywhere they'll be out of range of sparks from the hearth the walls are lined with bookshelves, floor to ceiling, necessitating the presence of a small ladder in one corner. They're packed with hundreds upon hundreds of volumes, in Aragonian and Caerdicci and Tiberian as well as d'Angeline, leatherbound in a rainbow of hues. All the same colour now, to their owner; and all equally useless.


Long before the duchesse de Mereliot's feast in celebration of Elua's Day sighed its last in the gentle light of a spring dawn — when it was in fact at its rowdiest, the good wine yielding to the mediocre and quite a number of revelers having donned unusual improvised chapeaux — Garance offered charming excuses to the circle of young lords still vying for the honour of losing to her at cards, and withdrew from the hall supported by her clerk and preceded by a Mereliot guard. At the time she said something about 'my chambers'. Thus, Boniface de Baphinol's inquiries at the palace for a Mademoiselle Lesage bring him swiftly to the suite in question, under some other menial's guidance.

The same clerk answers the door and admits him, annnouncing with courteous but mournful mien: "It is the vicomte d'Orange, mademoiselle."

The desk is covered in papers and ledgers; a substantial part of the floor, too. Above all the scholarly litter Garance sits in a broad padded windowsill, with her stockinged feet drawn up and the full skirts of her pale green linen gown spilling down the wall to graze the carpet below, where she left her shoes neatly side by side. Her hair is down today, in thick, well-brushed, dark blonde waves; she doesn't turn her head at the knock or even at the name, but the latter prompts a ready smile, visible in profile beneath her retroussé nose. "Lord Boniface!" she declares, sounding delighted. "How odd that you should come when not an hour past, I was thinking of you… Imagine it," and she gives a genuine laugh.

She can't see it, of course, but Boniface's cheeks glow with a smattering of color when she tells him that he was on her mind! He has dressed for a visit to the palace- dark reds and blacks, fine cloth cut to flatter his lithe figure. "I have heard it said, Mademoiselle," he says, trying to play it cool, but he can't quite hide that youthful excitement in his voice, "That putting your thoughts into the world can sometimes make them come true. You think of me.. and here I am."

His attire and his figure both are squandered upon a blind woman; but his words seem to find favour, and Garance is smiling to herself as she agrees, "Oh, how charming if it were so! Yes, we were just glancing—" And her own use of so inept an idiom prompts another chuckle, tinged with wry humour. "We were reviewing, shall I say," she corrects herself, clasping her hands demurely together in her lap, "the last five years of tax returns from your vicomté. That modest growth in your revenues in the last three quarters speaks very well of your mother's care for your patrimony, you know. It isn't enough only to let matters go on as they are — the right choices must be taken at the right times," she reflects, tilting her head where it rests against the window embrasure. Sunlight glints upon the black lenses set within the delicate golden framework of her spectacles. "And when I read between the lines I see the dowager vicomtesse did just that."

Oh, it's a good thing she can't see how deflated he looks at the mention of -taxes-. "Ah did she?" The doubt at that can be heard in his voice- a verbal shrug, almost just as he shrugs his shoulders a little bit, "I haven't had a chance to really look at the books myself, but that's good. Very good, in fact." That, at least, Boniface sound sure of- because more income means more money- and he's starting to get a taste of things his money can buy.

Whilst his betters converse the clerk Ézéchiel repairs to a cabinet against the far wall and pours a glass of wine; then he clears his throat discreetly at Boniface's elbow, and presents him with this no doubt welcome consolation.

"Of course you'll be in an even stronger fiscal position once you receive your rebate from the comté," Garance goes on chattily, swinging her legs down from her window seat and revealing just for an instant a flash of silk-stockinged ankles. "Have you decided yet how to invest it? Is that what you came about, I wonder?" she inquires as she rises and puts out her hand to Ézéchiel. Their custom is by now well-established; he takes hold of her outstretched fingertips and leads her between the piles of paper, toward her long green velvet sofa.

"Oh, I wanted to build a race-track, but my cousin doesn't much care for that idea." Oh yes, he notices that flash of ankle- and he follows along toward the sofa, rather than stand awkwardly near her desk, "So I'm considering road improvements instead, which could be a boon to both leisure travel and trade." When she asks about the reason for his call, once more his cheeks flash with just a little bit of color. "So no, it wasn't advice I came seeking, but another card game."

"Oh! I see," chuckles Garance, as she discovers the arm of the sofa with her other hand and then nestles safely into her favourite corner of it. Relinquishing Ézéchiel's support she employs both hands in smoothing her pale green skirts neatly against the darker green velvet, like new leaves upon a mossy forest floor.

"I thought you must have come on business — most of my visitors do, you know," she admits, "but I admire your honesty, my lord. There are moments when I should climb a much higher hill than this to find a game to play in. Now, a race-track might bring in a tidy income over time if you took a percentage of all the betting," she allows, considering it, "but it would be a slow means of recouping the cost of building it in the first place, whereas convenient roads kept in good repair will boost revenues in all corners, a little at a time, beginning at once. Of course the Rhône will always serve you best to transport produce to the markets in Avignon and Marsilikos — but first you must get it to the river," she points out reasonably, "as quickly as you can so that it doesn't spoil, and in the case of your excellent wines with as few bottles as possible broken by potholes! Yes, my lord, I think you've arrived at a wise choice… Do sit down, or are you sitting already—? I never know anymore," and she spreads her hands with an air of charming helplessness somewhat belied by her line of talk.

While Boniface did not come to Garance seeking her approval of his plan- he finds himself very glad that she -does- approve. "No, I'm not sitting, not yet," he responds, moving gracefully to sit beside her, near enough that his presence can, perhaps, be felt but not so close as to invade the woman's personal space. He is, at least, respectful. "Now, I'm here. And thank you- I'll admit the idea came more from my love of riding than any real practical thought.. but I'm glad there will be other benefits as well."

The arrival of his weight upon the sofa, and the faint accompanying creak, tell a tale to which Garance has learnt to be attentive. She smiles at him, one corner of her rosebud mouth higher than the other, and once more clasps her hands in her lap. Her white-stockinged toes just barely peek out from beneath her trailing hem.

"It is well to turn one's own interests to the benefit of those one is responsible for; then, everyone gains," she agrees easily. "But now I must tell you," and she adopts a mock-serious demeanour, "the dreadful news…" The slightest pause, for dramatic effect. "I haven't a regular card game of my own in Marsilikos, yet," she admits, and softens into a more confiding air. "I hadn't a chance to make a collection of players before I became ill, and, to tell you the truth, I'm only just learning how to play with my new— disadvantage," she states gently, and lifts a hand to push her dark spectacles higher upon the bridge of her nose. "But you were such a good sport the other night, my lord, that I hope you will come and join my game — when I'm ready to play again in earnest."

"That -is- dreadful news," Boniface agrees, adding his own over-dramatic sigh to the proceedings, "I -suppose- what passes for games at Glycine will have to serve for now than." Still, he doesn't seem to be totally crushed, and he laughs, musically. "You will tell me when you are ready then? I suspect losing my money to you will be quite fun."

"Of course! We'll have quite an evening of it, won't we?" suggests Garance cheerfully, that corner of her mouth ticking upward again. "You may even win once in a while, if you devote to cardplay all that time and energy you're too sensible to waste on swordplay," she teases. "But do you not care for the Glycine, then? I must admit," and she lowers her voice, "I haven't visited, myself." She tilts her head one way and then the other and makes a whimsical noise. "I intended to, but since I came to Marsilikos my time has hardly been my own."

Boniface grins brightly, his smiles, as usual, echoed in his warm voice. "There is always luck," he points out, twisting at the waist, turning toward her as he rests one arm on the back of the couch. "Actually, it's the one salon I have not visited yet. Bryony was my favorite in Elua, so I suppose I'm saving it for last."

That confidence draws another smile from Garance as well. "If you used to go to Bryony it's odd then that we didn't meet," she muses, her dark lenses reflecting his face as she tilts her head nearer; "or did we meet," and she gives a mischievous chuckle, "and you've just been too polite to point out that I've forgotten your name—? I've a good memory but not infallible," she admits.

Oh, does Boniface feel a little foolish that he hadn't put two and two together until this very moment. Beautiful woman who is good with cards and numbers? Of course she's Bryony. Still, after a little sheepish laugh he recovers. "I don't think we met- I'd only gone a few times. I never really got to spend as much time in Elua as I wanted!" he says, before he lowers his voice just a touch, "It's a shame though, that we didn't."

The sheep in the boy, yes, Garance can hear; but, blind to the shift in his features, she can't tie it to any particular words she's spoken. She's a little in the dark, as it were, and so charts a noncommittal course. "Well, I'm sorry you hadn't all you desired of Elua, my lord. It's a city one could live in many years without ever quite getting to the end of it, I think. But we can play cards as easily here as there — once I have a game," she reminds them both, smiling ruefully, "and players enough to keep it interesting. Something I've been saying to myself often in these last weeks is that almost anything is possible, it's only a matter of discovering the right way of going about it."

"There is nothing really stopping me from going back, of course. Elua is not so far from here, and even closer to Orange. Except, of course…" and here he sighs, over dramatically again, "Responsibilities. But I'm sure I'll find the time. Sometime."

"Of course, sooner or later," Garance agrees reassuringly. "And now that you've come into your title, you might be surprised just how many pretexts for such travel you might be able to discover in your responsibilities," she teases. "The ducal court naturally calls you to Marsilikos, but it would be quite fitting in you to attend the royal court as well now and again, wouldn't it?"

"Of course you're right about that!" Boniface is quite happy at that thought, already his mind drifting to all the fun things he like to do in Elua- and now he'll have money for it! He offers her a smile she can't see. "I worry I am taking up too much of your time, mlle. Thank you for indulging me, but I should, perhaps, let you get back to work?"

"Oh, keeping me from my work once in a while is an errand of mercy." The Bryony gives him another mischievous smile, well-directed because she knows just where he still is upon her sofa. "Had you held your title a year or two I might see if I could detain you to take me through some of these tax returns, but if you're no better acquainted with the details than I am we'd only make twice the muddle, wouldn't we? You must come again, though," she insists, rising to her feet in a rustle of linen and sweeping a hand over her skirts to reassure herself of their tidiness, "and tell me how you liked the Glycine and how their gaming salon compares with Bryony House — and then to play. Soon, I hope."

"Up till now, I've made it a point to not pay too much attention to my returns," Boniface admits with a little laugh as he gets to his feet, before adding, in what he considers his 'charmer' voice, "But now that I know that it'd allow for more time in your company- I might have to look them over!" He laughs, musically, nodding in agreement with her suggestion. "I will let you know. Until next time?"

If the special voice doesn't succeed with Garance, the effort does; she offers him her neatly manicured hand to shake, and an alto laugh which chimes agreeably with his own. "Until then — though now you've said you'll be studying I may quiz you, my lord," she teases. "Ézéchiel will show you out; he has a much better idea of where to find the door. All I know is that there is one, somewhere!"

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