(1311-08-12) A Touchy Subject
Summary: Whilst waiting for a foal to be born, Desarae questions André about something that's been bothering her.
RL Date: Mon Aug 12, 2019
Related: Logs in the Incident at the Palace plot.
andre desarae 


Grand and spacious are the stables of Marsilikos, a flat building built and rebuilt over the years, with windows located further up the walls allowing the rays of the sun to enter during warm summer days. When shutters are drawn in the colder months or when it is too dark outside, a number of oil lamps will shed a cozy and comparatively safe light in the stables. A thick wall runs through the building and divides it into two separate parts, only connected through a portal of double doors that are open during the day and barred at night — and watched by Mereliot palace guards at all times.%r%rThe part facing the Rue du Palace has public boxes to use for visiting nobles or merchants, whereas the other part within the walls of the palace is where members of the Mereliot family will keep their horses, with a few boxes spared for visitors lodging in the guest tower.%r%rThe ground is covered with straw that is changed out regularly. Buckets of water are provided and refilled by the stable hands, as well as generous sacks of hay and grain, offering appropriate nourishment for even the most excellent and spoiled breeds of horses.

It's a drizzly summer's evening, and the rain is a welcome visitor to those residents of Marsilikos whom have thus far sweltered in the heat of August. At least two weeks have passed since the incident where the Skald attacked the Vicomtesse de Gueret at the palace gates, and around ten days or so since Desarae had been interviewed as to what she knew of the events prior to that. Though nothing has yet been resolved in those matters, things in general are getting back to normal. Not, of course, for the vicomtesse and the Skald, but they are for Desarae. She's pushed the majority of it all to the back of her thoughts, and in the company of her cassiline, has brought herself to the stables. Her attire would suggest that she's no intention of riding on this occasion, being that a gown is worn rather than a habit, though she's deep within the stable's interior, posted at the entrance to one particular stall. From within the stall comes sounds of activity; gentle murmurings and the occasional snorted grunt. "Won't be long now, my lady. Definitely within the hour, I'd say." comes a voice from within.

For André the story won't be over until there is a resolution, but while investigations continue, he's gone back to focusing on the Great Exhibition preparation and the rather attractive Gotlander that arrived recently. He walks into the stables, leading his horse on reins, both sweaty from a long ride somewhere out of town. He looks briefly towards the group nearby but the bad light being what it is in the stables, he doesn't recognize them, so he walks his horse into its own stall, where he takes care of it, rubbing it down, making sure there's fresh food and a big carrot as a reward. He's talking to the animal in gentle tones, though the horse being D'Angeline, it may not understand his Flatlandish.

André's horse may not understand his Flatlandish, and nor for that matter does Desarae. She does, however, recognise the voice of the person that's speaking it, and a pair of bright green eyes turn in his direction. "I will be back in a moment," she tells those whom hold vigil in the stall. Hitching her skirts so that she doesn't trail straw in her wake, she walks along the rows of stalls to where André tends to his horse. "You will have to make sure not to speak too loudly, nor make too much noise," she quietly informs him. "My mother's mare is foaling, and is expected to give birth very soon." Worry creases her brow, and she glances back to the mare's stall. "I would hate for anything to go wrong, she is… I mean was… my mother's favourite."

"Oh, of course.", André assures her when he hears the warning and doesn't waste time with a formal greeting. He's pretty much done with his horse now anyway and leaves him to enjoy his food and water and the break from annoying two-legged creatures. "Is it going well?", he asks Desarae softly while he steps out and closes the stall behind him. One last pat is given to his horse's neck, then he turns to face Desarae.

Desarae looks back to André. "I believe so. Yes." she tells him. "Though I've never seen one being born before now. The groom looking after her is very experienced." Her chin uptilts, and there's a sudden vulnerability to be seen in her face. "I asked for the mare to be sent from home a few months ago. It was perhaps a little selfish of me to bring her to the city when she's happy in the fields and estates of Chavaise, but in a way it's like having a part of my mother with me in having her here. When I stroke my hand on her neck, I can remember my mother doing the same." A breath is drawn at a huffed grunt from the mare's stall, and male voice shushes: "Easy now. Easy now girl. We're almost there…"

"You must miss her very much.", André suggests gently, having followed the woman's look back to the mare's stall where things are underway. "I can't even begin to imagine how terrible it was and much it must weigh on you. At least a foal is a beacon of new life… a sign that life goes on for us here…"

"I do," Desarae nods. "You would think that I wouldn't, having been given to the service of Naamah so young, but anyone thinking that would be wrong. She was always there for me; in my thoughts and in my dreams, and it made those times when we could be together, that much better. Sometimes, when I'm alone in the dark, I can remember the feel of her arms around me, the smell of her perfume and sound of her voice. But life does go on, you are right. I mean, it must, mustn't it? It would serve no purpose to simply give up. Wallowing in anger and pity won't bring my family back, and it would mean that my enemies had triumphed after all."

"Of course it must, but it doesn't mean that we will ever forget or stop loving those who are gone from us.", André replies, "They are still around us, somewhere, I'm sure of it. I am lucky in that my parents are still alive, but I lost a young brother early and my uncle who was a bit of mentor and I idolized him. I carry them with me in my heart, wherever I go." He doesn't try to offer comfort through touch, but he remains standing there, willing to keep her company for as long as she might want it.

Desarae chews on her lip. "There was something that I needed to ask you, my lord," she eventually confides. "And I am very much afraid that it is to do with your friend, the Skald." A frown, and her eyes meet with André's. "I mean, the supposed Skald that's now in the Citadel's cells. The one that works for you."

"She doesn't work for me.", André corrects gently, "But do go on." He doesn't change position, but there might be an almost impercetible stiffening as he braces himself for fresh confrontation after this surprisingly gentle shared moment.

Desarae's frown deepens. "But she claimed she was your bodyguard, and that she worked for you. She near enough shouted it in my face, and you didn't correct her. So, she doesn't work for you? " A breath is exhaled, though it's more a sigh than anything else. A shake of her head. "But I suppose that it's neither here nor there now, it isn't what I wanted to talk to you about, it was something else entirely." Slender arms wrap an even slenderer waist, and she holds herself in a small self-hug before continuing on. "Something was asked of me by the City Guard when they interviewed me about the incident, and I wondered whether you might have some light to shed upon it."

"I was going to have some serious words with her.", André explains with a sigh, "I did not expect the… escalation." But alas Philomene happened. He puts it aside as well, arching a brow curiously, when she moves into another direction. "I can try, Mylady.", he says.

"Sergeant Jacquet, the guard whom conducted my interview, asked me whether I had met your Skald before," Desarae confides quietly. "And whether the woman had a grudge against me. She made a request of him, you see, regarding myself. And it quite confused him. That is why he wondered whether there was any history between us, which I of course told him there wasn't."

"Oh?" Clearly André is genuinely clueless. He waits for a moment to see if a follow-up is volunteered, then asks: "What request did she make then?" And after a pause, he sighs. "Can we agree that she is not MY Skald?"

"Fine. Not your Skald, then." Desarae's voice is tight. "The 'not-your-Skald' told Sergeant Jacquet that she wished for me to execute her." A pause for that to sink in. "You must admit, that was a very unusual request, and not something that anyone would expect since ladies aren't usually given to wielding an executioner's blade."

"I see. That IS strange.", André acknowledges and falls silent to mull this over for a bit. "Maybe it was a merely an expression of respect for you.", he finally suggests, "Perhaps she would regard it as a honour to be executed by a fierce noble lady and not by some boozy old man who chops off heads like clockwork. Or -" He looks directly at Desarae's eyes now, "She was just saying something to get a rise out of the guard. He strikes me as a very… cold man." Diplomatically said.

Desarae gives André a rather 'pinched' look. "I very much doubt she respects me, or that she would consider it an honour for me to take off her head, what with our exchange at the gates. Which does make both Sergeant Jacquet and myself wonder whether she may have come across some information regarding the execution of the woman whom murdered my family." She halts herself before she says too much, though her eyes remain calmly focused upon André. "The sergeant did ask whether I had confided details of the event to you, which I told him I had not, but then wondered whether you might have learned of them independently, and spoken on the subject with her…"

"You can despise someone and still respect them.", André points out reasonably, "The Vicomtesse de Gueret has treated me abominably, but I still respect her great fighting spirit." He listens to the rest, then shrugs his shoulders slighty. "I have heard a little from other people about your famly… and what has happened… but I don't know any details. I'm not a gossip, Mylady.", he adds, his tone becoming perhaps a little bit sharper, "I will be happy to receive your confidence and listen to whatever you would wish to share with me, but I'm not going around trying to collect information from others."

"I didn't say that you were a gossip, my lord," Desare notes, managing to keep her voice low in deference to the foaling mare a stall or two away, "I simply wished to know whether my personal life had been discussed between you and her." Her arms tighten about her waist, and a step back is taken. The barriers start to go up. "The truth is, that I almost rather that it had been. Instead I am left to wonder whether she had foreknowledge of me, and if so, then why? Is it mere happenstance? Or was she, for instance, hired by the Bhodistani's to finish what was started before I was even born. Tell me that I am being ridiculous, for perhaps I am. The thing is, I don't even know whom I can and cannot trust anymore…"

André sighs. He knows futility when he sees it, but he can't resist anyway: "I wish you would trust -me-, Mylady. Whatever I have done, I have done with the wish to help people. There is an ongoing investigation into the woman's background. It is in the hands of a young city guard, who, I admit, has done a fairly good job so far. Have patience. I understand that, given what happened to your family, you are suspicious and worried, but it would be an all too strange coincidence. If the Bhodistanis wished you harm still, why would they hire someone like her that stands out and draw attention? It's the silent shadows that are to be feared…"

"How can I trust you when you have friends like that…" Desarae whispers furiously. "Friends that would wish me to re-live the most painful and horrid of my memories! There was a time when I thought that we, you and I, might somehow become friends, but I think now that you understand nothing about me, André." She slips to the familiar. "You don't know who am, or even what I am." One arm unwinds from her waist, and a hand lifts to rub at her face. "Yes, the shadows are to be feared, but for me… the shadows are everywhere. You say you wish to help people? You should concern yourself with your own home. Your own country. You don't understand d'Angelines, you don't understand Terre d'Ange, and you don't understand me."

Here we go again. "She is not my friend.", André repeats patiently, "She was a stranger in need of a helping hand, who seems to have misunderstood my kindness. You and she got into an argument and I don't think she knows anything about your painful memories. And how can I begin to understand you, your life, your thoughts or your country, if you don't give me a chance to learn? It's what I'm here for after all. To learn about a new country and its people." He crosses his arms as he begins to clam up again as well, tired of the relentless cycles of accusation.

"You're here," Desarae notes, "because you washed up on our shores like a freshly boiled lobster…" Amusement glitters in her eyes, perhaps at the memory of how André had looked with his sunburned skin, or perhaps just because. Her tone softens. "I had to know. I had to ask. I hope you understand. The request to be an executioner has been eating away at my soul since I was informed of it." A breath. "But I expect that you have things planned for the rest of your evening, and I'm sorry to have kept you from it."

"I could have left weeks ago", André points out reasonably. "And I can't envision time better spent than in your company, Mylady. I…." He hesitates a little perhaps fearing another outburst, "I can try to see if I can find out the reasoning behind her request.", he offers, then bows when she declares her intention to depart. "Good luck with everything.", he adds, with a look towards the mare.

"Thank you. I would like that," Desarae eventually says. "Like it, that is, if you could find that out her reasoning for the request." Her shoulders lift with the deep breath that she takes, and her eyes follow his to her mother's mare's stall. "If she has a filly, then I shall name her Minette. If a colt, I'm not sure. Whatever she has though, boy or girl, I would like a name for it that means 'hope'. Perhaps you have a suggestion of your own for a boy? I've never been clever with the naming of animals, probably because I wasn't allowed to have any whilst under the roof of Rose Sauvage."

He is not going to suggest his own name. Nor tell her that it means manly and masculine. He can imagine the response. So he just hms. "One of our horses at home is called Phoenix.", he finally suggests, "The bird that rises from the ashes… sign of new life and hope?", he suggests and offers her a little smile, before he turns to take his leave. "If I find out more, I will let you know.", he adds, already walking away. And probably not talking about horse's names anymore.

Desarae nods. "Phoenix…" She tries the name out for size, and as André turns to walk away, then so too does she; her skirts left unpinched by her fingers so that they sweep through the dust of the stable floor as she heads back to quietly watch and to quietly wait. Patience is a virtue, or so they would say, and she's about to find how much of a one it is.

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