(1311-09-26) Political Tensions at Bath Time
Summary: A quiet bath turns into accusations and confrontation.
RL Date: 09-26-1311
Related: None
adeline andre inesse philomene tancred 

Temple of Naamah — Temple Baths

A large circular window of colorful stained-glass depicting Naamah is framed by two crescent shaped ones, sitting further up the wall as to allow for generous lighting during the day, with the shades of the glass used in the center painting the interior of the Temple Baths in colorful hues. The light beige tiles of the stone floor are arranged in a pattern, spaces between filled with darker shade mosaic stones. The changing area is divided into two spaces, hidden away behind semi-opaque drapes. Here, visitors can leave their clothing and move over towards the pools that are filled with the warm waters of a hot well, a faint layer of steam lingering occasionally in the air directly above the waterline. A larger pool of white marble is in the center, between two smaller pools that offer room enough for two or three people each. At the edge of the pools, trays are provided at regular intervals, some holding various flagons of bathing oils while others hold bars of flowery soap and other bath implements.

Acolytes of Naamah, clad in the red flowing robes of the temple stand at the ready, to provide towels or robes when needed and make sure a peaceful atmosphere is maintained within the baths.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a fall morning. The weather is cool and drizzling.

The Temple Baths.

It is not uncommon for nobles to come here, but why would they? Most, if not all, have their own bathing facilities. Apparently, Adeline does not: she rests up to her ears in the warmth of one of the smaller baths, with her eyes closed and her hair laid out on the deck behind her. The steam matches her hair and face — all white and pale.

Long day? Long day.

Andre is just a visiting stranger and while he does enjoy the Duchesse's hospitality, private baths are not part of it. Besides, he's curious about foreign customs and shared public baths are… a new one. And while it's not the first time he's come to the temple baths, he's still padding about wrapped in a towel from hip to knees, seeking for a quite dark spot where he can slip into the water unseen. Ideally in a cloud of steam.

Of course, she's going to notice someone slipping into her small pool.

The White Lady's eyes snap open. Her expression is a mix of disappointment and suspicion. She eyes Andre for a few moments before clearing her throat and sitting up in the pool proper, that her shoulders may rise out of the water as her back straightens. And, for a few more moments, she stares at the man before saying anything.

"Good afternoon."

Andre is glad to have made the transition into the water rather quickly and elegantly and allows himself to relax. Then the lady speaks out of the mists and he blinks a few times. Oh, there's someone else. "Er. Good afternoon.", he greets politely and a little sheepishly. "I did not mean to disturb you."

Adeline remains suspicious.

"Of course." Hers is a crisp, business-like tone. No nonsense. Probably no humor. "I did not expect you would have." Because who does that?

There's a pause.

"Were you not competing at the Great Exhibition the other day? Throwing axes?" A lightbulb goes off in her head. "Yes." Beat. "Forgive me if I do not recall your name. We had not been introduced properly, and I had my mind on other things at the time." She inclines her head.

"I am Adeline de Mereliot."

« Tancred and Philomene arrive. »

Andre seems to twitch a bit at the name, but manages to mostly hide it behind a warm smile. "Indeed, I was. I made a rather poor showing I'm afraid. Andre van Westerlo, Prince of Brabant.", he introduces himself. He would take her hand for a kiss, but what with them being nekkid in hot water, he keeps his distance. "Did you win the competition? Unfortunately I missed the end as I was required to take part in some trade negotations."

In after an early morning spent on a run, a ride, and more turns at the dummies, Tancred the Skaldi sheds his heavy maille and underlayers, pushing them into a heavy-duty sack. When he emerges, the foreign, barbate giant wears nothing except a small curtain of chest hair and .. more hair below. He grips his towel in his hand, moving through each pool to pick one that might be to his liking.

« Inesse arrives. »

"To be frank, I have not heard."

And she sounds frank. Downright blunt, actually. Adeline shrugs a shoulder. "Not many seemed interested in even trying, your Excellency." Beat. "So it is difficult to tell if your showing was poor. Personally, I think you did just fine." It's just that she was better. "And the crowd seemed to enjoy it as well." Those who were watching at least.

"You've come, then, for the exhibitions?"

Adeline and Andre are in one of the smaller pools. They aren't quite close enough to touch, but the pools aren't big enough to sprawl in. Adding a giant Skaldi to it may put the capacity at the uncomfortable 'who's foot is that' level, but it could also be the prelude to a party or something.

Decision, decisions.

"No, I did not. Fate and ill winds brought me to these shores.", Andre explains rather cryptically. "But since I was here anyway, it seemed a good idea for me to represent the Flatlands at the Exhibition. I hope you will attend our event, Mylady?" He watches the big hairy Skaldi arrive and frowns a little. Yes, this may be getting more comfy than he likes.

It's a very simple decision for the tall, blonde woman who makes her quiet, dignified way to the baths. By the time she's peeled her way out of her distinctive, heavily embroidered but well worn and faded riding jacket, boots, breeches, and shirt to reveal a body weathered both by age and injury, she chooses the quietest and closest pool. Necessity must. Her skin is marred rather strikingly by an angry red patch of scarring on the thigh of her oddly crooked leg and a newer, neater welt low on her right side where a more recent injury has begun to heal, the combination of which no doubt causes her to walk with a very distinctive limp. Philoméne de Chalasse thankfully submerges the worst of it, face a mask of concentration, before catching the eye of one or two of the others gathered and offering a light nod, a murmured, "My lord prince," or a soft, "Lady Cerdagne."

Lady Inesse de Baphinol ventures into the Temple Baths. She is already wrapped in a towel. Her long black curls are gathered into the bun that it wouldn't get wet. She offers a polite smile to an acolyte of Naamah and then steps deeper into the room. Her eyes wander around and get stumbled on the group gathered in one same bath. She quickly looks over Ander and Tancred. Her gaze seems not to linger at all on Philomene who passes them by. However, it freezes right on Adeline. The girl gets stuck where she has stopped and simply stares with her eyes widely opened. Both of her hands are tightly pressing that towel to her chest. Just to make sure it doesn't fall. The two thin laces may be visible on her shoulders though, what suggests that she is wearing something underneath the towel.

"Morning, your highness," Tancred reminds Andre in a low rumble, his d'Angeline excellent but tinged by his foreign accent. Mercifully, he has picked an empty pool in which to submerge his three-legged bulk, setting the towel aside to soak in sweaty foreign nudity. But he does take advantage of what fatty and fragrant soaps the baths have on offer, extras given to him by the servants who seem well-familiar with his presence. For now, that's his focus, scrubbing away the dirt of a working man built up under his many layers of wool, linen, and metal.

Adeline's attention initially goes to Philomene.

"Lady de Gueret." It is a gracious, if somewhat clipped response. "I pray you are healing well." Beat; she looks to Andre thereafter. "If it was fate, then were the winds truly ill? After all, you will be able to attend your nation's exhibition, which I am looking forward to, provided I am not needed elsewhere." Another beat. "Will there be a competition there as well?"

Because competition is her thing, apparently.

Her eyes move away to Tancred when he makes his quick introduction to Andre. Frosty eyes turn downright cold, as if she doesn't quite care for Skaldi, but has enough sense not to talk openly about it. She looks at the man as he watches himself for a second too long to be considered polite, and then looks back to Andre again. "I apologize for my distraction."

She does not yet notice Inesse.

First a Skaldi walks in and then the Skaldi-loving Vicomtesse de Gueret. This is either the start of a good joke or a bloodbath. Andre looks vaguely worried, but manages to offer nods of greetings to both of them as well to the young woman who had followed them in. Then he decides to focus on his present companion. "Yes, there will be a competition." He can't resist a little grin, "I think you would enjoy it actually."

Philomène spectacularly fails to leap, kicking and screaming, on the Skaldi. Opportunities for popcorn and commentary on wrestling/drowning technique are denied. Instead the woman appears content to relax slowly into the water, offering Adeline only a quick, rueful smile. "Prayers are welcome, but the skill of the healers more so, thank you, yes." It's only when her gaze happens to settle on Tancred that her expression tightens, just a little, around the eyes and the corners of her lips.

Probably lady Inesse would have been standing there and staring at Adeline till the woman would have decided to leave. However, a small group of new visitors came in. They were laughing and enjoying each others company that did not even notice a girl on their way. So, one of the people bumped into Inesse and made her realize where she is and reminded to her what she was about to do. "Excuse me…" She apologizes while the group grumbles about this small obstical in their way and walks off to an empty bath. Just then the Baphinol lady takes a few careful and hesitant steps closer to the bath of her saviour. Her lips curl up into a trembling smiles. "La-lady Adeline…" She softly drawls when she is in their hearing distance.

It might be good for everyone involved that no one is poised to attack Tancred, as without weaponry his stature lends him quite the advantage. For all of that, though, he is content to listen, working oil into his beard, rubbing off all that dead skin. He does notice Inesse, remaining aware as a bodyguard should. "My lady," he inclines his head, but doesn't get up.

The White Lady is about to respond to Philomene when she hears it. "Oh, Lady Baphinol." This is directed at Inesse. "You look better as well." Everyone's looking better, and that is a good thing purportedly. "Please." She makes a quick gesture with her hand. "Did you need me for something?" The two of them seem to know one another now, moreso than they did at the axe-hurling competition.

Adeline's mind is taken from Tancred for now.

Andre leaves everyone to their interactions, content to sink deeper into the water, leaving just enough space for his nose to still breathe. Maybe he's hiding from Philomene. Maybe he's just cold. Blue eyes, only just above the water line are content to observe and listen.

Having ascertained that Andre is not about to do anything particularly foolish for now, and having established by reputation how difficult it is to drown him already, Philoméne's attention remains initially on the Cerdagne, before it is rather abruptly drawn by the hesitant fuss that Inesse seems to drag with her wherever she goes. A brow lifts, but no words are spoken. No, she's content to settle in the warm water, enjoying the effect of the heat on aching joints and muscles, and for once, at least for now, to curb her tendency to acidic asides.

The girl glances at the Prince who is about to drown himself or something. There is Tancard. There is a stranger. More than one. And then there is Adeline whose question brings a small panic into Inesse's eyes. She squeezes that towel even tighter to her chest and looks around. There is one more free spot! A spot free from all the eyes! The young lady's cheeks blush brightly. This place is so hot! She glances back at Adeline and takes a few steps backwards. "I am so sorry. I shouldn't have approached you. I need to learn not to interrupt people at their leisure. No. I did not need anything from you, m'lady. I am thankful for everything what you have done for me already. Truly, I am so sorry for disturbing your date!" Yup, she peeks at Andre apologetically as well. Then she takes a few more backward steps. She bows a few times. Inesse is so sorry that she does not even notice how she dangerously approaches the edge of a pool.

Scrubbing under each knee and hamstring, Tancred fails to notice Inesse's imminent fall, at least at a point where he could have feasibly made it over and physically prevented it. He only sees her in time to warn : "Stay in place - " But she might not realize she's being addressed.

"This is not a date," says the White Lady.

Adeline's tone is matter-of-fact. "You are welcome to join if you wish, Lady Baphinol." Although, there really doesn't seem to be too much room with Philomene and Andre in the same pool with her. Then again, Inesse is a little thing. "The Vicomtesse just joined us, and the Prince was telling me about the competition he intends to hold at the Flatlands Exhibition." In which she seems interested, judging from her tone. A fleeting smile passes over her face, which is when she catches Tancred's warning and notices Inesse's precarious position.

"My lady — !"

That's him told. Not that Andre thought otherwise. His eyes assume an amused expression while he listens to Adeline and then the other young lady seems to go splotch and he lifts his head slighty out of the water, so he can see what happen. Sadly this brings him right into the line of vision of the Lady Philomene and with all the effort diplomacy and good breeding can bring, he manages to offer the woman a thin smile. "I'm glad to see you feel better, Mylady.", he says stiffly.

"You'd dance on my grave," Philoméne points out to the Flatlander with a matter-of-fact tone that just makes the words ring more true. "At least have the good grace to speak the truth if you intend to speak your mind, your highness." She stretches her arms along the sides of the pool, half lifting herself through her shoulders alone to get a better view of what can only be an accident about to happen.

"Still, I do not want to —…" There was no chance that lady Inesse would have heard Tancred's warning being so indulged into the conversation with the lady Adeline. The address of the mentioned lady seemed to be more inviting to join than an actual warning. So, the clumsy little thing makes the last step backwards. Her hands flail in the air. The towel falls into the water first, revealing that modest undergown Inesse is wearing. Then there is a loud splash of water when the girl goes under it and for a moment disappears from the sight of those sitting in the bath.

Invoking the names of some Skaldic gods in a low murmur, Tancred rises from his bath. He may be off-duty, but he's not about to let one of his House's ladies drown in water two feet deep. Unfortunately, this treats the others to a repeat Skaldi show. He squats down nude in Inesse's pool, moving to help the lady up with a grunt. "Are you hurt, Lady Inesse?"


"Would you excuse me, Lady de Gueret? Your Excellency?" There is sometimes no good knights around these days to make sure young women don't fall into pools. At least such women aren't lurking in lakes, handing out swords as a way of determining government. "A patient, of sorts." Adeline then leaps out of the pool she was sharing with the assistance of her arms. Having a sturdy body may not be great for dresses, but they have their uses.

Obliviously naked and wet, the White Lady starts the walk to Tancred's pool.

"I wish you no harm, Mylady.", Andre assures Philomene calmly, "And I pray to the Gods that my soul will never be as corrupted with hatred and anger as yours." He might have more things to say but the show is on. A lady falls into the water and suddenly he gets an eyeful of Skaldi he never bargained for and then a slightly more pleasing eyeful of D'Angeline. Sadly this also means he's now alone with the cranky old Vicomtesse. Yet for a moment diffences seem forgotten while he remarks: "Surely these pools are too shallow to drown in?"

"I'm sure it might be put to the test," Philoméne suggests drily, expression turning to something of disgust as Tancred makes his way over to help. That, though, soon turns to one of quiet approval as Adeline steps up instead. "Although I would hope any test is neither Baphinol nor Mereliot." Which leaves three options, and she doesn't seem the sort to be suggesting suicide.

Probably she would have drowned out of shock and shame if not Tancred. When his hand is wrapped around the girl's and he helps her to raise and steady herself on the feet, Inesse almost immediatly springs away from the Skald. Not because she hates them or anything. The man serves to her family after all. Though, his nudity is scarier to Inesse than a whole army of Skalds knocking on her door. "Thank you so much. Thank you!" She tries to get out of the pool like a helpless bug. It's slippery and so she manages to push herself out of it just from a third time. "So stupid. So silly. Useless. Nonesense. Shouldn't have come. Shouldn't have spoken…" She grumbles to herself. Once she is out of the pool on all of her fours, Inesse fights the skirt of her dress and the slipepry ground to find herself firmly standing on the ground again. Her face seems to be burning from shame and yet she repeats a few more times, "Thank you, m'lord. Thank you." She does not notice Adeline coming in for now.

"Watch your step, my lady." Tancred opts not to comment this time that the trip into the wet might have made .. things less concealing for Lady Inesse. Certainly, he doesn't hide his own nudity. Waiting several heartbeats in case a repeat accident ensues, he leaves Inesse to the care of the approaching Adeline (likely also so he can steal a view) then leaves the pool to return to his own, shaking his head and wetting his hair once he is back in.

"You should go where you wish."

Adeline's figure is liberating, and liberated. Muscled, not toned. Scarred, not 'perfect'. Does she care that Tancred can see her? Not at all. If anything, the way she stands by the pool, so as to address Inesse and her insecurity, is defiant. Feminine, yes, but forceful. "Just — " She can't help but smile a hair. " — yes, watch where you step." She offers a hand to Inesse, while looking at the also-proudly-naked Skaldi.

"Come join us, Lady Baphinol."

"Well, it seems the young lady is safe.", Andre asides to Philomene while he watches the rescue proceedings. He isn't all that interested in the nudity on show and in fact uses the fact that one of the bath's servants has materialized to see what the fuss is about, to flag her down and ask for some wine to be brought. He looks at Philomene to see if she may be interested as well.

But it would appear that the Gueret's attention is mostly on the drama occurring at the next pool, and much to her later regret no doubt she passes up the opportunity for wine in favour of entertainment in the form of a bedraggled youngster and a confident, scarred compatriot. On the other hand, this is Philoméne so she's no doubt got a flask stashed somewhere close by. For emergencies, you understand. "Yes, do join us," she drawls with a hint of amusement, lips curving into a slight smile. "At least there might be a fair chance you'd be soaked by design rather than accident that way, and should you choose to drown yourself again you'd have a chirurgeon within arm's reach, which you must admit is far more convenient for all concerned."

Inesse smiles at Adeline and takes the offered hand. Actually, the younger lady seems to accept the invitation to join them, since she does not release Adeline's hand, unless the woman will withdraw it once Inesse is secured on the ground. "I trully apologize for ruining the evening." She looks at Philomene then who also invites Baphinol to join their pool. The girl smiles. "Very right, m'lady. I am sorry." Then her voice raises that as many people could hear her as possible. "I AM SO SORRY. TRULLY. DIDN'T MEAN TO DISTURB YOU ALL!" Her voice is a bit pitchy when raised. She smiles and looks up at Adeline. Waits.

"… the servants of the Temple prefer we do not shout, my lady," Tancred says, suppressing a wince but a twitch of one cheek slips through. Them's the rules, so he decides it's appropriate to remind his social better as such. He's done in due time, rising out of his own pool to towel off everything, either in want for a cheap meal or not wanting to impose upon the blue-bloods further. He does a thorough job of it, then hangs the cloth over his shoulder as he makes for the changing rooms.

Adeline does not release Inesse's hand.

Once the latter is out of Tancred's pool, the White Lady meaningfully leads the Lady Baphinol to the pool shared with Philomene and Andre. "You should probably take your garments off before you enter the water." Not that she feels compelled to remind Inesse of this, but it is perhaps advisable given to whom Adeline is murmuring such a suggestion. Once the two of them are at the pool at which she was at, Adeline gestures to Philomene and Andre in turn. "You probably know the Lady de Gueret. And this is the Prince of Brabant, with whom we competed the other day." At the exhibition. "This is — " The White Lady looks to Inesse.

" — I'm sorry, m'lady, but I do not think we have been properly introduced."

Andre looks rather more cheerful now that wine is incoming. He offers Adeline and Inesse a warm smile. "I think we have met before, did we not, Mylady?", he asks Inesse.

"Thank you, Tancred. You are absolutely amazing!" Lady Inesse replays to the man. It's because he reminded of the rules and because he saved her today. "We are very lucky to have you." This time she even dares to glance at the man who is about to leave. "I owe you."

Then the girl focuses on that company of hers. She slips into the bath after lady Adeline does so. Inesse will try to settle down close to Mereliot, of course. She does not remove her dress! She wouldn't dare to do so in public. "I have spoken to the acolytes and I explained to them that I can not remove my clothes but I need to come here. They said I need to breath some steam. I am coming down with something after that… incident!" Inesse winks to Adeline to make sure she understands about which secret she is speaking. "They were not very pleased, but they allowed for me to use it just this once. I usually don't go to these baths. Mother has a place to wash. The private one. I just…" She sighs and looks at Philomene. She chuckles at the lovely humor which deepens the blush on Inesse's cheeks. "A pleasure to meet you! I am glad to see that you are in full health. I've heard about that unfortunate accident. It's so terrifying. Good that… if I rememebr correctly, Prince Andre was there to save your life, lady Philomene." Inesse smiles and briefly glances at Andre, "We have met when you were looking for Citadel. You were covered in blood. Philomene's blood. You saved her. It was so brave of you!" Inesse looks to Philomene and then into the water.

« Tancred leaves.»

Having no knowledge of what happened to Philomene, Adeline listens.

She does slide into the pool, and moves over a little closer to Andre so that Inesse can fit between her and the Lady de Gueret. She sighs once she's back in; she was kind of cold out of the water and without a towel — and it showed. So as to not take up as much room, she lifts her arms up onto the edge of the pool.

Her eyes come to rest on Andre.

Andre smiles vaguely when Inesse reminds him of the precise circumstances of their initial meeting. "Indeed it was, Mylady.", he confirms, studiously avoiding Philomene. Seeing that Adeline is looking at him, he gives her a weak smile as well. And then 'lo, like a guardian angel the staff member reappears with his wine cup and he gladly accepts it, so he has something to keep busy with.

"An unfortunate accident in which a filthy creature under Prince Andre's protection aimed to kill me, you mean?" Philomene responds mildly, glancing past the woman to whom she is ostensibly talking and directing her words and gaze more to Adeline. "Well, I'm sure if the prevailing story is that the young man rescued me from certain peril, an 'elderly and crippled old woman' as I believe the rhetoric goes, then that must surely be the truth of it. I'm truly fortunate to be in the august company of such a selfless hero."

"Did I offend you, m'lady?" Inesse fearfully turns her look away. She glances at Adeline as if asking what did she do wrong. She even glances at Andre briefly as if trying to find out if she was incorrect about the true story. Her fingers curl up into small fists. Inesse receives some bravery and dares to look back at Philomene. "I do not think that you are old or crippled. You are the strongest woman I have ever heard about, m'lady. I do not think that a person who could kill you exists in this world. You should be an example to an upcoming warriors and they all should dream of having at least a grain of your bravery, talent and devotion."

"I think the Lady de Gueret means not all tales are true, Lady Baphinol."

Adeline's tone is also mild, but she doesn't seem to share the same contempt for Andre that Philomene does. Still, the White Lady eyes the Prince inquisitively. "I myself have not heard much of the incident, your Excellency." Beat. "Is what the Lady de Gueret said accurate? Was her assailant one of your retinue?" Her questions are delivered slowly and precisely.

And then she waits for the answers.

"It's a long story.", Andre reminds Adeline slightly evasively, "You will find that it varies by who is telling it. I will be happy to share my version with you at some point." Though clearly not now. He gives Philomene an even look. "I took you to the Infirmary while the guards were trying to find witnesses and record their words.", he says simply. He looks like the wine has gone sour and suddenly rises from the water. Clearly not worried about steam and visibility anymore, he lets the ladies have an eyeful of Flatlandish manliness while he climbs out of the pool. "If you would all excuse me now…" He offers half a bow and stalks off across the wet tiles, wine in one hand, towel in the other.

Philomène lifts a hand, dripping, from where it trails in the water, casually flicking it first in one direction then the other. "Ah, then Prince Andre was brave enough to save me from what could not have been certain death, as there is no person who can kill me? From the one extreme to the other, and so easily. No, child, I don't think you offend me so much as bemuse me. What a joy it must be to be so young and so able to reconcile a multitude of views at once." She takes a breath, then lowers her arm back to the edge of the bath and her hand to the water to trail the fingertips in the warm water. "I'm not being kind," she admits after a moment, inclining her head. "The forced idleness that any injury necessitates does tend to sharpen the tongue in place of a blade. My apologies. You no doubt believe you are offering compliments and flattery, and I should take that in the spirit in which it's meant."

« Andre leaves. »

When Andre raises to his feet, Inesse immediately dabs her gaze down and she doesn't look up until the man is obviously out of sight. Then she glances at the two other women in the bath. "Prince Andre is a very caring man. I think he might be thorn by two sides, or any sides. You know, I think he might be quite similar to me. Not that he is clumsy or silly. He knows a lot! But I think he just wants everyone to be happy. It's so sad that there is no possibility to make everyone happy. There will always be someone displeased with you. For example, I try to be helpful to everyone at my home. My brother and my mother seem to like me. However, my sister is being incredibly rude to me. It doesn't matter what I say or what I do. She doesn't want to hear me." Lady Inesse tries to explain her own point of view.

"Prince Andre is a good man. You, lady Philomene are a strong and powerful woman. You, lady Adeline are very beautiful and caring." The girl smiles broader. "We all have good traits for which we are worthy to be loved. But also we have some flaws. Majority of our flaws come to us with experience in life. I think Prince Andre is very emotional and probably because of his more difficult relationship with his parents. With all due respect, I think that you, lady Philomene, hold a lot of anger within yourself. Something in your past hurt you and you are trying to sound harsh and scary that nobody would ever dare to hurt you again. And you, my lady Adeline, are afraid to show your true self. Probably it caused you a lot of pain in the past." The girl briefly glance at Adeline and then looks down at the water where her fingers splash it just a little bit. "You all are lovely. I know I sound silly but this is how I see the world."

Adeline watches Andre get up and go, silent.

And then, she looks back to Philomene. Her response is more intended for Inesse, but she seems comfortable just gazing at the older woman while she talks. "I think we are all entitled to our perspective, Lady Baphinol, but we must be mindful that it is but our own perspective. I trust that the Prince understands the charge against him and his, and I trust that Lady de Gueret's memory is not faulty." Beat. "What matters to me is what I perceive and understand. Anything else is conjecture."

She looks away for a moment.

"As for myself, Lady Baphinol, I can assure you that fear is not a concern." Then, she looks to Inesse, her expression dour. "Not for myself, at least, and less so for my past. Let us just say, simply, that we all sit at different chairs at a table looking at an imperfect fruit and wondering who will reach for it first." Whatever that means. "But do be careful not to assume much, if anything."

"Appearances can be deceiving."

Philomène allows herself a ghost of a smile as Adeline speaks, bringing her hand back to touch her chin and absently crack her neck. "And what a marvellous collection of imperfect fruit we offer each other. But please, allow me to enlighten you, the creature in my past who hurt me was a Skaldi with an axe. And," she adds with a deliberate literal interpretation of the young girl's observations, turning to settle that steel grey gaze on the Baphinol, "I assure you I repaid the favour with considerable interest. The wages of life in Camlach, where the dangers are often even more serious than the risk of falling dramatically into a bath, if you'd credit it."

Inesse's lips part a bit when she stares at Adeline and listens for her point of view, The girl lets out a sigh of a small admiration. "You are so intelligent… Very beautiful and very intelligent!" She smiles genuinely and then her dark eyes find lady Philomene. "You are very right. I speak none-sense while so many people protect our walls in the South. I just speak speak speak and I have no experience and I know so little. Believe me, I am very thankful for the protection. I am just… I think I am currently lightheaded and should simply go and rest. Go home. That injury still has an effect. I am so tired all the time. But it was a pleasure to talk to you both." The girl raises to her feet and leaves the bath. Once she is up, she offers a polite curtsy. Then she briefly looks back at Adeline. "I would like to speak more with you. You are a very welcomed guest at our manor. When you will have time."

Then the young lady leaves and she even manages not to fall into any of the other baths or pools, and she doesn't stumble on anything and doesn't bump into anything.

« Inesse leaves.»

Adeline watches as Inesse too gets up and departs.

She draws in a breath through her nose, and lets it out slowly. Attention falls back to Philomene, as the last woman bathing with her. A couple of seconds, and she looks to the water. Thence, back to the older warrior, who is her superior in so many ways. As a thought occurs to her, her lips curl into a small smile. Something amusing, perhaps.

"I trust that your assailant met a just end."

Because, well, that's what a soldier would desire. Its meant as a simple compliment. "I worry about that one." Beat. "I have a younger sister back home in Cerdagne who is, to me, equally as — how shall I put it? — unseasoned." Beat. "I suppose I have neither the patience nor the inclination to watch young women become victims. And yet, it seems to me, here?" Huff. "The court seeks to make victims of them all."

Whatever that means.

"The courts," And the word 'court' somehow seems to rhyme with 'foolishness', "are considerably more lenient in Marsilikos, and Her Grace shows great mercy to the infirm of mind." There's a pause, then Philomene explains drily, "The animal was sentenced to exile, broke her bonds and murdered the Gotlandish ambassador then disappeared off into the night. One might hope that the entire episode might as least serve as a cautionary tale to the urbane southerners who think themselves so far removed from any danger here."

She takes a breath, one that was certainly intended to be deeper but is held short as a wince threatens the Chalasse noblewoman's features. "I've three daughters who've grown up in l'Agnace and never seen the mountains, but they know well enough that kindness never kept a wolf from the sheep. Sheltering these young women does them no favours." She briefly extends her hand to touch the other woman's elbow. "Show your sister some of it, Lady Adeline. Let her see your tenants and some of the difficulties they face. Show her some of the harsh decisions we make daily, where there is no 'nice' option."

"My sisters know their duty and place."

Adeline lifts and drops a shoulder. "I trust that the Duchess levied the punishment after giving the facts due consideration, Lady Philomene." Beat. "That is not to say I agree with it, but my knowledge may be less complete than her Grace's. And, indeed, it is a lesson that should not be quickly forgotten for the sake of expediency or politics." Pause. "But few within these walls have watched the life flow from a man's body. Fewer still, as a result of their own actions."

"The same can be said of my sisters."

Sigh. "But my mother wanted at least a couple of daughters that would be appealing to a nobleman of good taste and excessive assets. And, to be fair, what they lack in brains, they, as with the Lady Baphinol, they make up for in other ways. As much as I think the practice exploitive — " She looks away. " — I can't say that it does not yield results."

Not that she agrees with that either.

"They forget very quickly that we continue to hold the border, that we are still at war," Philomene agrees, brows drawing together as she allows her hand to drift absently in the water, forming small eddies which swirl and twist away. "But, as you say, I'm sure the young lady Baphinol has many admirable qualities that will be useful in arranging a suitable political alliance." There's a touch of a smirk there. "And I'm as guilty as the next person for wanting to see the family strengthened, by marriage or consortship, and by the birth of children to continue the line. I just don't hold the naive notion that one need necessarily like ones husband or wife in order to still do ones duty."

That makes Adeline laugh shortly.

"My mother had nine children with my father. I would like to think she liked him in one way or another." Beat. "Unfortunately, my own province is dismayed that I have not yet launched a flotilla from my port. As if I either had the time to keep my legs spread that long or the inclination to have my hours taken up by the mewling of babies." Short. "But, in time, there may be a man that may find me worthy enough of his attention and wealth so as to ask for my hand in political marriage."

If she were any drier, she'd be a desert.

"Still, romance is in high fashion. And — " She gently touches the necklace at her neck. She still wears it, even if she wears nothing else. " — it is not all bad. Getting preoccupied by it, though, is luxuriant, and no soldier has time for that." Adeline inclines her head respectfully. "If I may, though, I have been dallying here long enough. Would you be amenable to visiting me one night for dinner?"

She pulls herself out of the water again forcefully.

"Provided you wouldn't consider an evening with me to be as much a waste of your time as the mewling of babies," Philomene insists, stormy grey eyes flashing with good humour. "I would be honoured and pleased to. I shall see if I can find time in my whirlwind of social engagements," she adds with absolute solemnity.

« End. »

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