(1311-08-31) I Don't Drink Water
Summary: Philomene arrives at the salon de Coquelicot, but unfortunately, the novice and adept can't give her what she came for.
RL Date: Sat Aug 31, 2019
Related: None
lois philomene coty 

Le Coquelicot — Court de Nuit

Tiles of fine beige colored marble cover the floor in an ever repetitive pattern that is only broken by the circle of inlay work in its center, where through the use of white marble and dark red obsidian a likeness of the poppy flower comes to life, informing the visitor which salon it is he has entered. Long white drapes embroidered with a line of similar earthy dark red to the obsidian used in the floor are arranged to frame the windows, through which the parlour will be generously lighted through the day. Scattered about the room are comfortable chairs, light rattan fletching topped off with comfortable, cream-colored cushions, beside small tables where long slender flagons of wine stand at the ready beside goblets made of clay, glazed in warm earthy tones.

The air is that of relaxation, on more levels than just the physical; this extends to the mind, the soul, and the heart as well. An effect that is enhanced by the soothing melodies played by a lutist in a corner, by the pleasant subtle scents emanating from clay bowls filled with aromatic oils sitting on the tables; the warm lighting of oil lamps through glass shades painted with soothing patterns of waves in orange and dark red. Enhanced further by the soft laughter rippling through these halls where the visitor for once is allowed to take a break from his everyday trials and tribulations, from fears and worries, from tenseness in muscles and sometimes just loneliness.

Archways in old Tiberian style lead onwards to three areas, where patrons can find soothing in the way they wish to. Whereas a stairway at the back curves all the way up to the upper floor, where private quarters of courtesans and adepts can be found.

It might be a safe bet to find the parlor of the salon deserted at this time of day — late morning already moving towards noon, any preparation and cleaning of the place having already seen to by those poor novices having to see to this task today. Or so, Lois may have thought. She has withdrawn into a corner, hiding sort of behind a some comfortable vacant chairs grouped about a table, a flagon of lemon water there waiting beside a bowl with fresh fruit of the season. The Coquelicot adept kneels on a cushion, not directly on the marble floor, and before her, there is a work in progress, a building constructed from pebbles of various sizes. The red hair of the adept has been done in a braid, and her blue eyes regard the construction as she, holding her breath, places another pebble on the arrangement of frail stability.

<FS3> Lois rolls Rock Balancing: Good Success. (8 8 2 1 6 3 5 3 8 1 1)

Speaking of arrangements of frail stability, there's an oddness to the footsteps that sound across the marble floors, a slightly hesitant unevenness that, while not entirely unfamiliar here, certainly hasn't been heard of in a considerable number of months. Coming into view, a tall, blonde woman with a particularly striking jawline and an awkward, limping gait that pegs her immediately as Philomène de Chalasse. The lack of a stick or cane with her might appear odd to those who haven't previously encountered the vicomtesse, and even more strange if one has been paying attention to recent gossip which has variously had her actually dead, seriously injured, or transformed into some sort of Valkyrie-like scourge on the foreigners invading the city at present, depending on the stories you listen to. She doesn't look dead, though, far from it today, dressed in a meticulously embroidered dark green velvet jacket, the top two or three buttons open to show a high collared but plain, crisp white shirt beneath, with dark breeches and her iconic riding boots with the brass spurs attached to the heels which click with every step on the flooring. Keen eyes take in the surroundings, rather busier than she'd hoped with several novices already up and about, but she purses her lips against this irritation and comes to a halt near the entrance, a hand resting at her belt. "Good morning," she offers simply, and waits.

Cleaning carried out by poor hapess novices like one young Coty! He's been up since dawn sweeping and well…there was an amount of lollygagging in there - he's easily distracted. But! The hall is clean, so he must have got there in the end one way or another. What he's been up to since is anyone's guess, though as he comes racing in from the direction of the gardens at a full run he comes pretty close to tripping over Lois and her balanced rocks, only avoiding sending it all flying by the narrowest of margins. Coming to a stuttering halt, there's a look of tension in Coty's shoulders, accompanied by a wince as he takes a hesitant look back over his shoulder. Only on spotting Lois and her rocks unscathed does he let out a (somewhat theatrical) sigh of relief. "Sorry!" he chirps, a laugh quickly rising to replace the wince as that tension subsides.

Perhaps slightly too soon! Since he then notices Philomene, who seems rather fiercer than Lois. There's a tiny sort of squeak in the back of the novices throat and a patter patter of bare feet on the marble floor as he scurrieS - yes scurries - in her direction, though he does manage to settle into a more sedate pace as he draws near. "Hello my lady!" he beams, before asking "May I take your coat?" revealing that that is /probably/ what he was meant to have been here for all along.

<FS3> Lois rolls Composure: Failure. (6 2 2 1 2 2 4)

There is concentration apparent in Lois' posture, the body tension as she leans forward to place that pebble onto the top of a pile that may or may not look a little like a tower of sorts. So involved is she in her current task that Coty rushing in makes her jump a little in her kneel. "Coty!", there is a trace of irritation in her otherwise so gentle voice, and the adept moves to her feet, allowing the garment of light blue flowing silk to fall and thus cover her appropriately, all the way over her legs. It is a light sleeveless gown, definitely Coquelicot in the way it slips negligently over one shoulder. The soles of her leather sandals cause soft sounds upon the floor, as she approaches, following in the wake of the hasty novice in his race towards the visitor, perhaps aiming to minimize any further damage he might do? Hanging back a little, as she watches Coty attend to the lady, Lois watches, biting back any further rebuke that had been about to jump from her lips.

Philomène looks as though she's about to just say a flat no to the novice for a moment, eyeing him with the sort of scrutiny one might expect of a sergeant major inspecting a parade of fresh troops, but she finally allows herself a small, polite smile, a dip of her head, and begins to unfasten the elaborately embroidered buttons from their equally well-frogged buttonholes. "Thank you, Monsieur Coty, you may," she responds, meeting the young man's gaze with an inscrutable blue-grey look as she pronounces the name so usefully just provided. "Although perhaps you might apologise for disturbing the young lady's architectural feats first?" This suggestion is followed by a similar inspection of Lois, her expression wholly neutral. "As must I apologise for interrupting your free time, it would appear."

Busted! Coty looks ever so pleased with himself at having rescued the situation for a few moments, right up until Philomene tells him to apologise to Lois. There's the faintest return of that wince that makes him look *very* sixteen years old for just a moment, though with the looming up of Lois behind him, he is surrounded! What can he do! Turning to Lois a deep breath is taken before he speaks again "I'm sorry for being late Lois…" a pause "…and for running in the halls…" a pause "…and for nearly crashing into you and knocking over your pile of rocks…" a longer pause, then a definitive sort of nod accompanied by a hopeful look, the novice satisfied the list of the mornings sins is complete.

Loïs isn't that much older than Coty, really! Turned seventeen in July, the young adept regards Coty as he turns and apologizes to her. Well, sort of. "You remember next not to run in these halls," she reminds him gently, already placated a little by his over-eager and so very much novice attitude. "And… you didn't crash into my work. Which means, I can't be wroth at you, can I?" Attention is shifted to their visitor, and the adept executes a graceful curtsey towards the woman. "My lady. You do not disturb, certainly not! The fault is all mine for choosing this parlor for my latest creation. My name is Lois, my lady, I am an adept of Le Coquelicot. And our Coty here is a novice still. Even if his debut is not far away." She looks from Philomene towards the comfortable chairs, "Perhaps you would like to have a seat? Is there anything you'd like? Company? Something to drink? We have lemon water over there, but we also have wine, we could water down, if you like?" After all, it's still early in the day.

"I don't drink water, fish fuck in it," Philomène notes drily, "but a cup of wine wouldn't go amiss, thank you." She doesn't immediately head for the seats offered, taking her time first to stroll with that peculiar gait around the edge of the room, hands folded behind her back and apparently admiring the glasswork in the windows. It's not until she's proven to her own satisfaction that she is able to walk around the place that she finally turns for one of the seats, the skin around her eyes tightening for just a moment but her face otherwise a schooled mask of non-expression as she lowers herself down. "I've a long day ahead," she explains succinctly, "so a little company wouldn't go amiss. And, perhaps," she adds casually, as though it's not her entire purpose for being here, "a little something of the poppy to encourage a good night's sleep later..?"

Coty's eyes widen just slightly at the revelations about fish, as though realising this for the very first time. It results in a very slight wrinkling of his nose as he considers the prospect for several seconds, the train of thought finally broken when he is handed the jacket he had previously offered to take. Taking this as being a good opportunity to excuse himself, before attempting to return with slightly more grace, Coty hurries off at the fastest kind of a walk that could not be accused of being a run to stow the garment and reappears a few moments later looking much more serene and composed - he really can do it when he has to! Coty is, as it has thus far gone umentioned, today wearing a pair of loosely fitted white linen pants and a tunic in a similar style and fabric, both woven finely enough to be slightly gauzy and translucent in the right light.

Loïs has been content to linger, leaving Philomène that moment for her demonstration of a stroll. "Have you been to Le Coquelicot before, my lady?", she dares to inquire. "It is… one of the oldest salons in Marsilikos. In fact, I think it was the first salon founded here. We devote ourselves to the well being of our patrons. We aim to make them feel at ease, offer a space where they can relax and find tranquility." She stands there, hands joined at the small of her back, head tilted slightly forward until Philomène finally has found her seat and settled herself there. "Company, my lady, yes. And wine… Umm… you have aches that need to be soothed? Depending on the nature of your pain, we can offer different ways of treatment. Milk of the poppy can be a last resort, and we have it available, my lady." Noting Coty's return, she shoots him a sideways glance. "I can go and get the wine, if you would like to entertain the lady for a moment?", Lois says, in half suggestion-half statement. Shortly before she moves over to the cabinet of wines and deals with the task of pouring Philomène a glass of Eisandine red wine. Not watered, not after the previous statement had made it sound like an uncouth thing to do!

Philomène fixes that unsettling gaze once again on the adept as she goes to pour the wine. Coty, for all his youth, helpful demeanour and handsome frame, is blithely ignored. "How old are you, Mademoiselle Loïs? How long have you been here, precisely? I assume you're originally from this province, or am I mistaken?" She stretches her arms out in front of her, adjusting her cuffs one at a time before settling back and folding her hands in her lap.

Coty sort of projects an aura of disarming naivete, though he knows well enough not to intrude where he doesn't seem to be invited. He hangs back just a little, remaining near the fringes of the room as Lois and Philomene exchange small talk and the like, though still nearenough to listen and be on hand if anything changes. In spite of the neatness of the place, there is always plenty to be done and for his part the young novice begins to busy himself with several of the floral displays, looking them over with a critical eye and carefully plucking out any of the blooms that are past their best.

Here she was, trying to put forth Coty to Philomène's attention, and yet, it seems it is Lois who has inspired the lady's curiosity. Returning from her brief excursion to the wine cabinet, the adept serves the glass to Philomène and places the flagon of wine on the side table. "I am seventeen, my lady," she responds. "As for your other question, yes, I am of this province. I was born here in Marsilikos. In this very salon. My mother was a courtesan of Coquelicot, and my father… he was of House Gentian, from Mont Nuit. And as I grew up here, it seemed only natural that I'd stay here, to continue my mother's service." She turns half-way, enough to include Coty in her line of vision. "My debut happened a year ago, it was a grand affair, as I debuted together with our Anais, even if we are of slightly different canon."

Philomène accepts the glass without once letting her gaze waver from Loïs, thumb absently running around its rim as she cradles it with both hands. "Then, mademoiselle, allow me to offer a little advice. If a Camaeline with an injury twice your age informs you precisely of what she requires, don't bloody argue." The words are spoken with a certain weariness rather than anger, and she pauses to take a sip from the wine. "I've spent almost thirty years finding the best solution for my particular aches and pains, but recent events have left me temporarily in the position where my options are more limited. Sit," she commands, in a tone that simply expects it will be obeyed, "You will tell me about yourself, I will drink wine, your fellow there can draw up a contract, and, sure, tell me about himself, too. Why not. And then before I leave, I'll take a small supply of the poppy to see me through until my lungs are healed. And that will provide me with tranquility and an increase in my wellbeing."

Coty has been busying himself with a few general tasks around the room as Lois on Philomene have been speaking and is currently fussing with a few of the floral arrangements, peering at them appraisingly and carefully removing any blooms which are now past their best. There's a small collection of such stems lightly held in his left hand. He's not out of earshot however and must have been listening at least a little, as he glances over immediately when Philomene's tone takes a turn for the aggravated. Blue eyes widen just a little as the novice chews briefly on his bottom lip, glancing between Philomene and Lois once or twice before he dips a bob of his head and hurries off to a sideroom to dispose of those few dead flowers before returning.

There is a rebuke, and Lois lowers her head, accepting it in all good grace. "I am sorry you feel discomfort," she tells Philomène with a friendly smile. "But I am not allowed to give out any of our stronger medicine, not even on request." Obey she does, however, lowering herself into one of the seats next to Philomène. The gown keeps her back covered fully, and she leans a touch forward, hands resting in her lap. "A contract?" This has her eyes widen with surprise. "So you have ill dreams plaguing you, my lady?" A flick of her wrist she issues towards Coty, sending him away to fetch a Second in charge, and a contract too. "Coty cannot draw up a contract though. He's a novice. Contracts are drawn up by those in charge of our salon. You will need to specify certain things about the assignation… As for the poppy… You should speak with Mademoiselle Elspeth, she is the Second of Balm canon." Babbling all this information out as she hopes for the uncommon details of the assignation to be finalized in a contract. "You will leave in the morning," Lois declares towards Philomène. "Because… we would need the night to explore the questions you have about your dreams." Her eyes sparkle with glee, and she looks at Philomène with pleased and confident optimism.

Philomène frowns at that assumption, lifting her chin in defiance. "I do not dream," she insists stubbornly, "and I have other business to deal with today, rather more pressing than spending the entire afternoon, evening, night and apparently morning while you umm and ahh and still fail to provide the one simple thing I have requested. Please invoice me for the wine and your time, but I shall return to speak with the second directly. I don't have time for this nonsense."

"Everyone dreams," Lois counters softly, and oddly enough, the gruff manner of the vicomtesse doesn't seem to throw her off. "The wine and the time is free," she adds and in rising to her feet waits for the vicomtesse to continue on her business. "Have a good day."

Coty is not sure whether he is coming or going! He is called over to chatter, he is sent away to fetch the second, he is not fetching the second, Philomene is staying the night, she is leaving immediately…it is a whirl. Eventually he just ends up stood there rather gormlessly, watching as Lois and Philomene discuss and then do away with the possibility of an assignation. When the Vicomtesse announces her intention to leave however, this finally sends Coty scurrying, and he returns a few moments later with Philomene's jacket folded neatly over one arm.

Philomène eases to her feet again, once more setting her face in that carefully schooled neutral expression as the strain of standing exacerbates both her old injury and the newer one, then gives Coty a polite nod, claims the jacket, and limps to the exit without a backward glance.

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