(1311-08-28) Lost Dreams and Future Ambitions
Summary: Guillaume and Desarae meet in the Explorers' Club in Raziel's Sanctum, and talk of ambitions and lost dreams. An invitation is extended.
RL Date: Wed Aug 28, 2019
Related: None
guillaume desarae 

Explorers Club - Grand Plaza - Marsilikos

Natural light graces the top floor of Raziel's Sanctum through several oriel windows inlaid by jade and celadon slivers. Brass casements lend an antique feel to the wood floors and grandiose height of the peaked ceiling. Thin wood pillars carved in classic Hellene style run the length of the hall, each pair flanking a doorway into an adjacent chamber. Creature comforts abound where upholstered fainting couches are arranged around low square tables, the better to share wine and conversation in stylish comfort. A brass fitted rail sweeps around the sunken living area, such as it is, separated by a flight of stairs from a crescent stage flanked in a lectern and mobile shelves laced by a changing assortment of books or gewgaws. The only serious fixture, a freestanding wunderkabinett, is a gorgeous teak piece covered by lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl designs likely to be the Argonauts on one side, and a certain famous couple traveling to the far ends of the Earth while flying the Courcel flag on the other. The open doors display dozens of shelves, and the Companions in their bas relief glory. So too the angelic partners of Elua appear on the plaster plaques ringing the upper walls.

The place holds an intimacy despite the hall's long size, inspired considerably by a fireplace used to banish the cold and gorgeous acoustics reflecting whispers and song alike into a bold auditory richness. Off the main hall open six doorsways. Four private bedrooms offer little by way of amenities except a place for weary travelers to rest their heads or prepare for the next adventure, each outfitted in kind by a bed, drawers, and a bookshelf. Two smaller salons support groups no larger than ten, decorated in classic Eisandine style. These treasure boxes feature more seating and books than actual instruments. Maps hang on the wall, woven tapestries of old.

The months of summer are drawing to a close, though the weather appears not to know it. The blue skies threaten another day of near intolerable heat, and even at this early hour the temperature has started to rise. In order to escape at least a little of it, Desarae has risen far earlier than she normally would, and after partaking of a rather lovely breakfast upon the balcony that opens from her rooms and offers views of the bay, she's gathered a single maid to accompany her and her Cassiline to Raziel's Sanctum. It's a place that she frequently frequents — at least when in the mood — and the mood of the day dictates that this is where she's now to be found. Up two flights of polished wooden stairs, she's firmly ensconced herself amongst the glorious trinkets which the finest of the city's wanderers have donated to the Explorer's Club. Lit by the morning sun that pours through one of the oriel windows, she wears a gown of ivory brocade that's accented with thread of gold embroidery, colours that accentuate quite beautifully the warm undertones of her Mereliot complexion, whilst accenting the green of her eyes and the dark raven hair of her Morhban heritage. Hands laced behind her back and bent at the waist, she stares with concentration at the contents of the cabinet in front of which she stands, addressing a man whom, from his looks, a person might assume to be a curator. "It's a what, did you say? How odd…"

Not long after her arrival there's the distinct sound of hard leather-soled boots on the wooden staircase; a single person, a man judging by weight and stride. In short order the arrival comes into view: a figure of perfection in black, hair that looks like a river of midnight cut close, and a face that differs from being a statue only by its animation, with eyes like the surface of a lake at two o'clock on a cloudless summer day. Shahrizai, of course, bred true: there's no mistaking his coloring or the way he carries himself, as if he believed just by existing he presented a challenge no man could fail to notice and no man could hope to meet.

He's dressed well, in the manner of some minor nobility — a brocade doublet of silk so dark it may well be black, the slashed-and-punched jerkin of the current style, and a cloak that's perhaps more for effect than present need: fall is coming, yes, but not here yet.

Over one shoulder he has a satchel, the sort of thing carried by couriers and messengers — but theirs are normally heavy cloth, not handmade leather with carefully polished furnishings. This, too, marks him as being a man of wealth and … something. Letters? Learning?


He gives the Cassiline a brief nod of acknowledgment before putting the bodyguard out of mind, exactly where the bodyguard wishes to be. "A sextant," he answers for the curator as he approaches the cabinet, giving the rotund gentleman a nod of polite acknowledgment. "Monsieur Villiers."

The curator is momentarily taken aback; someone skilled in perceiving people might note the newcomer is quietly pleased by this. "Monsieur. You were not expected until the morrow—"

"Yet, I am here," he says calmly.

"— Of course, of course. Your books, monsieur, I expect the messenger to arrive this afternoon —"

"— Let's not bore your guest with our tedious commerce, Villiers." The Shahrizai turns towards Desarae, greeting her with a polite nod. "Milady. I regret interrupting." Back towards Villiers, "Then I shall wait for your courier, yes?"

Bright green eyes flash with irritation at the interruption, and Desarae straightens from her stoop. Her hands remain looped together behind her back, though there's that proud uplift to her chin that speaks volumes of whom she is and whom she's yet to become. It is perhaps fortunate that the newcomer falls immediately into conversation with the curator, for it gives her those precious few moments to rein in that annoyance that might otherwise have lent a sharpness to her tongue, and allows her to study Guilluame most thoroughly. Unusually for most of the young women about the city, she wears her hair long and loose, and it falls without kink or curl to the small of her back, held back from her face by a band of hammered gold that tucks at either end behind her ears. "A sextant, you say?" she interjects once Villiers has responded to the question asked of him. "And what would a person do with one of those?" Perhaps she's needling him in the querying of the item's use, but there's nothing to be found in her expression now that she's had the time to school her features into neutrality, and see now… there's even the ghost of a smile that plays her lips.

"Monsieur—" Villiers begins, but the newcomer quiets him by raising a gloved hand in the universal gesture of 'hush'. The Shahrizai looks over Desarae briefly, enough to note the fact she's likely had some education.

"Some will tell you navigators on ships at sea, far from land, use it to determine their latitude. The star Polaris sits immediately above the earth. If Polaris is directly overhead you are at ninety degrees latitude. If Polaris hovers at the horizon you are at the equator. Measuring the angle subtended between the horizon and Polaris will yield your current latitude. For this reason, sailors turned to surveyors and architects, borrowing their tools used to measure angles of things on terra firma. Quite clever, really."

"I know of the star Polaris," Desarae notes to Guillaume. "In fact, I know a great deal of the stars in our skies." She pauses, a small breath blown between her lips. "I have heard how our sailors navigate upon the oceans by the placement of the stars, I just didn't know how they did so." Her eyes cut to the sextant. "I seems such an insignificant tool, for what you are telling me it can achieve." She pauses, her eyes coming back to rest upon Guillaume, and even as they do she's unlacing her right fingers from her left, and bringing her hand up and out towards the dark-haired stranger. "Desarae Mereliot, my lord. I confess, I don't recall having seen you either at court or any other social gathering within the city, but I would hazard a guess that you are of House Shahrizai by birth."

"Once some astute inventor develops a reliable clock suitable for ships at sea things will truly change. The earth rotates fifteen degrees per hour; if the sun reaches its highest point three hours before noon, you may deduce you have sailed forty-five degrees of longitude to the west. Soon it will be possible to accurately, precisely know where one is on the globe with benefit of sextant and clock. We live in an era of miracles, milady Desarae Mereliot…"

Here he accepts the hand offered him, bringing it to his face to brush his lips over her knuckles gallantly, as a properly raised gentleman would, his sapphire-blue eyes on hers the entire time.

"… No less miraculous than meeting one of such beauty. I am Guillaume, son of Lucien, the Vicomte de Mauron. Enchanté."

"That sounds terribly complicated, Lord Guillaume," Desarae admits. "At times like this, I find that I am grateful that I am not of a seafaring family. Imagine were I expected to know of such things as sextants, clocks, degrees and angles, on top of everything else." She doesn't enlighten him upon what the 'everything else' is, and her fingers curl lightly but briefly about his as her hand is lifted and his lips meet her knuckles. Her smile brightens. "But you are very far from Mauron, my lord," she further ventures, curiosity now showing in the tone and inflection of her voice. "Are you simply within our city in order to take a ship and travel further afield?"

"Can't stand the bloody things." The almost casual drop of a mild oath is on the one hand transgressive, subversive, perhaps even rude; but then again, do the Shahrizai care? "No, milady, I am an architect. Gables and buttresses and arches, bridges and columns and spans. Until we find ways to plant pillars in the sea, it and the ships that sail on them will hold no great interest for me. I am here on business related to the construction of new edifices; and, if I can but find backers, a fine temple for the worship of the Divine."

Amusement plays upon Desarae's face at that slip in Guillaume's etiquette, and having reclaimed her hand from his, returns it to its twin behind her back. "I hope that you approve of the architecture that our city already has to offer, my lord. It is already quite splendid, and it isn't for nothing that we're known as the Jewel of Eisande. Have you visited the Grand Plaza as yet? I am told that it has been mathematically laid out so that the tip of the obelisk on the upper levels matches exactly to the height of the one in harbour." She spares a moment for Villiers whom apparently still hovers, a small nod given him. "Thank you for showing me the pieces, monsieur. It's been most instructive." Whilst the old man locks up the cabinet once more, and wipes fingerprints from the glass, she brings her focus back to Guillaume. "I have a cousin, Lady Ortolette Mereliot. She is known to make investments in many different projects. Perhaps you might like an introduction there?"

"If she's as lovely as you I would love to meet her even if she does not deem my schemes of interest," Guillaume answers smoothly. As Villiers concludes his business and scurries off, Guillaume calls after him: "I shall be here when your messenger arrives, Villiers!"

Villiers turns and gives a florid bow, the paunchy little man apparently flustered at the presence of this much nobility. "A thousand thank-yous, milord. If you've no further need of—"

"You're excused, Villiers," Guillaume calls with just a note of imperial disdain, "thank you. Send your courier up when he arrives."

Then he turns back towards Desarae. "Architectural drawings. Quite rare, you understand, there are only a few monasteries capable of reproducing them accurately. I'm having some delivered here. I appear to be confined here until they arrive, alas. But as far as prisons go it seems nicely gilded, and I approve of my warden," he offers her with a smile. "Are you here oft, milady? If so, I would appreciate being shown around the place where I'll be confined for a few hours."

"My cousin is as lovely as you could wish her to be, my lord," Desarae replies. "Though she is of a delicate constitution, and therefore tires quickly." Diamonds dance at her ears with the twist of her head, and a quiet nod is given the man in grey that waits patiently for her business to be concluded. It's a nod that's become a part of their silent communication over the months since her previous Cassiline's departure, and he offers her a nod in return before folding his arms and leaning one shoulder to the wall where he stands. Who knows the contents and meaning of that nod which was given— but, drawing breath, the young heiress settles her attention back upon Guillaume. "Is there a reason that my lord has to wait here specifically? Might he not prefer to be shown some of the glorious architecture of which I've just spoken? We could easily return within the hour, or longer should you wish to take refreshment somewhere…"

"And where in this city would you advise one such as me to find refreshment with one such as you?" the Kusheline gentleman inquires. A world of subtext, innuendo, and scandal could be read into that if one wished, but it would reflect more on the listener than the speaker: he talks as someone accustomed to court and saying things the listener may interpret a myriad of ways. "I told Villiers I would be here when his courier arrives. For me to leave would necessitate me changing in my decisions, and a Shahrizai must be as constant as the northern star. But I am not, you understand, averse to refreshment. Merely, absent a solid concept of it I feel I ought stand by my declaration."

Innuendo. Innuendo. If Desarae were to fall foul to such, she doesn't allow for it to show upon her countenance. Her smile turns rueful. "I would have suggested one of the restaurants within the Grand Plaza itself, or perhaps even one of the smaller ones which blossom along the Rue du Port and have the most wonderful views across the bay of Marsilikos. But," and she hesitates, her mouth falling into the smallest of moues, "since we cannot have you showing an indecision of your mind, we could simply request refreshments to be served here. I feel that there are topics of conversation that we might enjoy touching upon, and besides, I have yet to ask you whether you have met my aunt, Lady Emmanuelle nó Mandrake de Shahrizai." Her voice tails off, and since there's no decision to be made on geographical matters, she beckons Villiers back and requests for a tray of tea and whatever delicacies there might be being served within the Club this morning, to be served to the pair of them.

"I have the honor of being that lady's cousin," Guillaume offers with a slight bow of his head, as if either to affirm her question or to show deference to an elder, but not present, relative. "I have fond memories of playing chess with her in my younger years, although I've not had the chance to see her recently. She likely remembers me in the callowness of youth. It would be good to see her; perhaps even to surprise her."

Villiers, who had been making his exit, comes back over to take the request; then vanishes again to obtain the necessities for entertainment. Guillaume pays him no heed, as if he were just part of the background, sort of like her Cassiline.

"Still. Please, milady, I urge you: feel at liberty to touch upon what you wish."

"My aunt's cousin?" Desarae queries, her brows knitting above her eyes in brief thought. "Even if very distantly, that makes you and I also related." Her left hand lifts, and she twines a length of her hair between her fingers, teeth snagging upon her lower lip before with a tilt of her head she indicates the collection of sofas arranged by the fire. The hearth is dark and cold with it being the tail end of summer, and beneath the eaves of the uppermost floor of Raziel's Sanctum, the temperature is pleasantly warm. She might be yet a young woman of only seventeen natalities, but there's a maturity to her borne of the year through which she's waded since her withdrawal from the salon, and she links one arm in Guillaume's and urges him towards the seats. "Horses. Do you like them? Do you enjoy riding, my lord?"

"I am Shahrizai. I am accustomed to being related to everyone. We do not have family trees, we have family webs, and the spiders that must track our kinships have dreadfully difficult jobs indeed." His smile is easy, even garrulous, as he moves to walk over towards the sofas: he awaits her choosing one and lowering upon it before he moves to sit beside her, arousing a momentary glance from the Cassiline.

"Your guard seems quite attentive, milady," Guillaume says once he's settled in, but quietly, so as not to carry across the room to the guard. "Is he your guard, or a guard others have insisted accompany you?"

"Brother Florent was requested for me by my aunt, Her Grace," Desarae says simply. "He was with me originally, but then replaced by Lord Brother Nicolas Guillard. After… everything, Nicolas returned to his duties at the monastery, and I was fortunate enough to be assigned Florent once more." Her eyes track to the tall Cassiline who has shadowed them over, and offers the man a smile. "We are comfortable together, Florent and I, and I feel all the more safer for knowing he is never more than a few feet from my side." Hands bereft of jewels or other such paraphernalia smooth her skirts across her knees, and there's a moment of silence that follows before she asks, "I'm afraid that, as you say, the family trees of House Shahrizai are complex, though I do believe that I know the main lines. You are not your father's heir, if I recall correctly?"

"Questions of primogeniture become complicated when the firstborn is the product of a consortship rather than the sanctioned marriage. I am technically firstborn in two families through chronology; through matters of inheritance… I suspect when that day comes my brother will receive the Vicomteship. It will be a complicated legal affair, but the family's will is clear and the balance of forces favors him. Unless there comes some terrible thing I do not foresee and cannot imagine, milady, you're correct: I shall never be Vicomte."

Despite this, the raven-haired man seems positively, well, accepting of his fate. His next few sentences illuminate why. "And yet, people will remember my buildings for centuries, long after my brother is forgotten by the ages. People will see the fruits of my mind and feel inspired. In a sense, I prefer that to a Vicomteship. I do not feel sorry for myself. It would be a waste of time, in any event."

"Yes. The fickle finger of favour," Desarae muses. Despite Guillaume's own good spirits, her own seem dampened a little, a shadow lurking behind her eyes that would wreak havoc upon her if only she'd let it. "Perhaps," she eventually says as a tray bearing a pot tea and another of hot water is delivered to their table, "… I might ask for you to visit Chavaise at some point. It is the seat of my marquisate, and I should perhaps like for something to be erected to the memory of my family." Eyes lid as she speaks, shuttering her emotions from Guillaume's observation. "A building in the grounds, amongst the oaks perhaps. A place where I might retreat to at times when I need solitude and separation from this world."

"A shrine at which one might observe devotionals, yes." He's silent for a while as he contemplates and reflects before appending, "There are a great many kinds of places for these devotions, from Mont Nuit — or this city's own take on it — to temples, stone-hewn or great wood-timbered ones. Which among these are nearest and dearest to your heart? What most places you in the mind of a believer?"

A frown finds Desarae's brow, and she gives due consideration to the question that Guillaume has asked, before answering. "I was raised to be a courtesan, my lord. I have a deep love for Naamah and all that She represents. It is She of all the Companions whom I hold closest to my heart, and it is to Her whom I firstly give prayer and devotion." Quietly she leans forward where she sits, and pours water from one pot onto the leaves of the other that they might steep. "It is a project that I should like to work on sometime in the future; neither too grand nor too humble, but something which will stand for generations. Much as you said." Her eyes meet with his as she sets the pot down; intelligent and bright. "But you didn't answer my earlier question, my lord. Do you like riding?"

"Then pattern it on the Night Court: a small place in the forest to which you might retreat and find service to Naamah," Guillaume offers simply, charitably, kindly. "It would be an interesting challenge, and one I find myself up for meeting; a small shrine, intimate, suitable for devotions or encounters as the spirit commands you. I've never been asked to do something on a small scale like that; it would be … it would cleanse the palate in a most lovely way."

He takes the opportunity to pour her a cup of the hot dark elixir. Truly a civilized man, yes? "And horses. Yes, I'm fond, although my talents at riding are strictly taking one from one city to another. Dressage, exhibitions, warfare, are all beyond my ability — but not beyond my appreciation."

Desarae nods, accepting the cup once it's offered. "I think that sounds perfect, and just what I'm imagining," she admits. Her fingers are cool where they graze his with the exchange of the saucer between, and she settles it upon her knee and holds it steady whilst continuing to speak. "If you haven't arrived to the city with a horse of your own, then you could hire one from the city stables. There is so much more to Marsilikos than what is simply confined within the span of its walls, and some lovely rides along the coastline. It would be politic of me to invite you to join me one morning, though I'm sure my father would turn in his grave were he able." A faint smile tugs at her lips. "There is a shrine at a waterfall close to the city, though hidden. Perhaps you might permit me to show it you."

The mention of hiring one receives a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes and a shake of his head. "The Shahrizai do not rent. We invest. We think long-term and strategically. Let others pursue fixed-term contracts with courtesans; we finance marques. Let others rent apartments in the city; we own the buildings. Let others rent horses; we buy fine stallions and charge good coin for breeding. We do not rent, we own, and we seek return on our investments. It is simply the way of our kind."

His smile warms a bit, perhaps the better to defang the words. "But I do thank you for your courtesy in offering to show me this shrine. Tell me of it, and tell me why you think it would speak to me. I am interested, truly."

Desarae shakes her head, and laughs. "I would not dream of spoiling it for you, my lord, by describing it to you before you see it for yourself. It will either speak to you, or it will not." Eyes darken where they meet with his, her pupils darkening as she lifts her cup for a sip from its rim. She swallows and speaks. "Truly? Do you never rent? What if you were to purchase a horse and find it entirely unsuitable for your needs? And forgive me, my lord, but on Mont Nuit House Shahrizai have rooms within House Valerian so they might enjoy the company of the courtesans there. Is that not also a form for renting?"

The back-and-forth keeps a smile on his lips, this time a hint of it reaching his eyes. "Renting is only for temporary necessities or assets not expected to increase in value. Any enduring necessity — own. Anything increasing in value — invest. It is a simple set of rules but has worked out well for us. And yes, it's true that for centuries now the Shahrizai of the City of Elua have had a contract with House Valerian, but I would not call them -rentals-. Rather, the money we give to the Valerians is a … an investment of its own. One which has paid handsome rewards over the years and will do so again. I quite enjoyed my time on Mont Nuit when I was younger. Such … eloquent depravity. It was easy to see in their eyes how deeply they sought to obey both their assignations and their faith."

<FS3> Desarae rolls Composure: Amazing Success. (7 5 5 8 8 5 7 7 8 2)

Not a shred of colour corrupts Desarae's cheeks when Guillaume speaks of the depravities of Valerians. Elegantly manicured fingers twist her cup within its saucer, and her teeth drag on her lower lip before releasing it with the smallest of sighs. "How lucky you are to have visited there. It grieved me deeply that I myself was unable to find the time when in Elua for the Longest Night," she confesses. "Especially having heard so much of it from Emmadame. That is, Lady Emmanuelle. How glorious it must have been when she was Dowayne of Mandrake. Did you visit her there whilst she still reigned? She retired two years ago now, and I feel that Elua must feel her loss keenly."

"I played chess with her when she served as Dowayne of that respected House," Guillaume affirms, "although I had no real connection to the Mandrake other than the ties of family. We did not often speak of things connected to Mont Nuit; more often it was simply cousins catching up. A graceful figure, she is, with a commendable impatience for folly and sloth. I'm certain Mont Nuit misses her, but as I left there five years ago I really couldn't say. — But you, milady, you said you were at one time in training to be a courtesan. Of which House? And when did this end?"

Desarae's eyes downflit to the tea in her hands. "I was given into the service of Naamah when I was six years old, my lord. I trained at the salon of La Rose Sauvage, here in Marsilikos. It is the salon which embraces the canons of Mandrake, Valerian and Alyssum. The canons are affectionately referred to here as the Thorns, the Red Roses and the White Roses. I was found to have the qualities of a Red Rose…" Her voice tails off, and there's somewhat of an uncomfortable pause, before she adds. "I was close to my debut when my mother and siblings were… killed. It prompted Her Grace to secure my withdrawal from the salon, since I was the only remaining heir of my mother's blood. That was a year since, just gone."

"A crime and a tragedy; a crime they were taken from you, a tragedy you were removed from your chosen life so close to your Debut. I'd have bid heavily on you." He says it with the sort of quiet candor and aplomb, and a total lack of shame or self-consciousness, which only serves to underline the entire thing.

He watches her there for a few moments, watches her coloring, before removing his right glove. The hand beneath isn't quite an academic's hands — clearly he's lifted his fair share of stones in the course of his occupation — but it lacks the heavy callouses and scars of a laborer. A nobleman's hand, then, as he dares to reach over to her, to trace a bare fingertip over the back of her hand: to see whether this is accepted as a comfort, or whether she ends the contact.

Desarae's hand remains where it is, and she watches the tracery of Guillaume's finger across the back of it in absolute silence, and it's a second or two more before she next speaks. "It was a difficult time for me. My life up until that moment had been driven in one direction. I wasn't prepared for what happened, but who could be? This last year has been humbling for me, and I'd like to think that I am vastly different to the headstrong girl I once was at sixteen." A smile. "You would have enjoyed my debut. The gown I would have worn was to be a mesh encrusted with crystals. It would have caught the light as beautifully as any diamond as I waited, imprisoned within a cage of gold, for the winner of my auction to release me." There is a certain sadness that edges her words, or a regret perhaps for what might have been, and keeping her cup balanced on her knees, she carefully leans and drops a light kiss to his cheek. "I would have welcomed your bid, had things been different."

The lack of response is, in and of itself, a clear response: and thus, as she leans in to kiss his cheek he reaches up to stroke his fingertip down the back of her neck, as if she were some exotic cobra to be mesmerized with a touch, with his uncannily-blue eyes on hers from that very-close distance. He doesn't break the contact, nor does he take excess liberties with her above what he already has.

He does, however, speak.

"Then debut," he tells her quietly, eyes never wavering from hers. "You cannot do so as a Rose Sauvage. But there is no reason you cannot have your own ritual, your own way of memorializing a time in your life and consecrating a new life beginning. If you do not lay pretenses of religious significance, would the Roses Sauvage care? Instead, accept bids, and choose the winner. Let the monies go towards the House you loved, and allow yourself the joy of utter obedience, in the way your heart craves."

Desarae laughs, and it breaks the solemnity of the moment. "All my life I have believed that the Shahrizai have no sense of humour my lord, and here and now you disprove that." She's still laughing as she pulls her hand from beneath his finger, and leans to replace her cup on the table. "I mean, could you imagine the scandal that would surround such a thing? I am, after all, no longer a virgin, and neither could I claim to be for sale. Too funny, my lord. You are… too funny." Hands brush lightly over her skirts, and with feline grace she rises to her feet. "But say that you will come riding with me, yes? I will make an introduction for you to my cousin in return, should you agree."

He accepts the ending of contact with good grace and has the self-control to not lash out at the laughter, more the credit to him. "The Shahrizai know scandal, and pay it no heed. What do we care for the opinions of others? You are no longer a virgin: and? Nor could you claim to be for sale: which is why you would not be for sale, but raising money for charity. Clearly, being ripped from your debut hurt you. If you wish to deal with this by turning your back on that life and thinking it was long ago and far away, I cannot second-guess you. If you wish to deal with it by showing the world all that it cannot take from you, well. But. As you see fit, milady."

Desarae looks down at Guillaume from her now loftier height. "I have offended you, and for that I am sorry. My life is complicated and troubled, and what I once was, I no longer am." Quite properly she offers him the courtesy of a curtsey, and on rising from it beckons for her Cassiline to join her. "I have the rest of the day ahead of me, but the offer to show you the shrine is still open. You can let me know, or not as your fancy takes you, and a messenger will find me at the palace." With that, it appears that their tête-à-tête is through, for she turns to leave, unless halted.

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