(1311-09-30) Great Exhibition: Flatlands Presentation
Summary: What it says in the title.
RL Date: Mon Sep 30, 2019
Related: Great Exhibition Plot
adeline andre hugo jacquet shaffan 

Countryside — Eisande

The road that leads from the city winds its way through lush countryside. Drenched by the sun in summer months, it provides a fertile ground for fruits and crops, with well-tended vineyards that produce some of the finest grapes for summer wines. To the south, a rocky coastline slopes down to the silver sands of beaches, and where coves and inlets are littered with fishing boats that plumb the depths of the sea for the fish and seafood that makes up the traditional Eisandine diet. Small stone buildings crouch in the fields to provide shelter from the sun for those that work the land during the heat of the summer months, and there's an open-fronted wooden stall set back from the road where produce such as melons, peaches and a variety of other fruits might be bought when in season.

Trees line the banks of a river where it cuts along dividing fields towards the end of its journey that started somewhere in the Camaeline mountains. Swallowed by a rocky gorge to the south it disappears from view, though a well-trodden path that follows alongside allows a person to track its course towards the ocean.


The Flatlands Exhibition. People who stroll into the nicely laid out area by the small river outside town will first notice the delightful aroma of cooking fat. Things are being fried somewhere. A plume of smoke shows the way. There are fried potato sticks of course but also sausage-y things and fried dough balls. An array of pots containg egg-based sauces. But the fried food stall is not the only Flatlandish delight on offer. There's a large stall with at least twenty varieties of cheese, some as big as a wagon wheel. Another stall offers chocolates, ranging from white via light-brown to nearly black in artistical shapes and with adornments such as nuts and almonds. The largest stall however is set aside for drinks. Ten different varities of beer await the curious, including Flatlandish specialities like kriek and framboos. And there's the jenever, also known as peket and available in lurid colours ranging from pink to purple and bright green.

It's not all food and drink either. There's also tapestries and lace and some nice pictures showing colourful flowers. Which, sadly, are absolutely not in season and not available.

Can a guard ever be off duty? The sergeant of the City Watch, known by the name Jacquet, is a rare sight to behold outside of the city. And yet, here he is, attired in his official garb, his scarred face looking slightly dour as ever. Dark eyes look here and there, as if he were still on guard, and suspecting something bad to happen from somewhere unexpected. His hand rests on the pommel of his sword, that is for the moment secured in its scabbard. Many townsfolk have ventured outside for the Flatlands presentation, noble and common born. So perhaps it is on purpose, that Jacquet is here, looking after things, and making sure nothing bad occurs, while he does. As it is, he is not partaking of any alcoholic beverages, making his rounds about the place at a slow but no less purposeful pace. Should he happen to pass by the Prince of Brabant, Jacquet will offer him a grave look and a curt nod, the minimum of respect required for a foreign dignitary.

Hugo has been here for some time helping the Flatlanders set up, his jacket casually hooked over the upright of a tentpole so that by now he's in rolled up shirtsleeves like some sort of common labourer, only the good quality of the cloth indicating that actually he might be something more. He has, of course, found the beers — they're a necessity after manual labour — and seems to be cheerfully sampling a pint pot of one of them, perhaps on behalf of Jacquet. It seems a shame to let them go to waste, after all.

"This is absolutely delicious," The Prince of Carthage admits after swallowing a small bite of as dark as a coal chocolade with some almonds. "I do not think I have tasted something like this before. It's not that sweet as I would expect. Bitterness is what I like. We will need to speak in more details about this delicatessen!" He smiles to the merchant and then moves to the stall with variaty of cheese. Shaffan has paid a visit to Flatlands Exhibition looking a tad different than usually. His attire is lacking gold and Carthagian ornaments. One could even easily mistake this man for a commoner if not his slightly arrogant posture and high quality leather trausers. He seems to be prepared for some entertainments which involve water and jumping, apparently. He keeps glancing at the area where such an event has been scheduled as if to make sure that he doesn't miss it.

The Prince of Brabant is drifting between groups of people, trying to keep the local servants going, who are being paid to ferry drinks and food around. The actual canal jumping content is being preceded by a junior version which involves a lot of local kids going splash into the river face first. Andre smiles at whoever is looking his way and materializes beside Jacquet. the guard is barely recognizable without his uniform and in broad daylight, so Andre might not have known who he is, when he offers him a small bowl containing dark-brown fried balls. "Some bitterballen, Sir?"

"What is this?", Jacquet inquires in his gravelly voice. He is recognizable, and certainly a bit surprised that André would approach him in this manner. Holding the gaze of the Flatlander prince, the guard snatches one of those 'bitterballen' with his fingers from the bowl and lifts it to his nose, smelling at it carefully. A faint smile twitches on his features when the guard finally decides to take a bite of the delicacy, making sure there are two or three people that see him eating of what André has offered to him. His dark gaze drifts from André to the river and he raises a brow. "What is happening over there?" Referring perhaps to the youths jumping into the water.

Hugo enjoys his beer as he stands, watching the children attempting to leap the stream and mostly swimming, and offers the occasional cheer or encouragement with a broad grin on his face. At the query, he glances back over his shoulder at Jacquet to supply an answer. "The idea is they have to leap for the upright pole, climb it as high as they can before it's tipped over, and if they're lucky, make it to the other side, dry. As you can see, there aren't a whole lot of lucky ones."

Adeline de Mereliot, Vicomtesse de Cerdagne, is out for a stroll.

Actually, not exactly. She had to let her horse at the front of the Exhibition; you cannot trust a charger to behave where there are many people in close proximity. Something about the melange of smells and crowd noise makes such horses peckish, and prone to lashing out just because. Blame their training. And, like her horse, the Lady sticks out in mixed company: she wears a full suit of armor under a cape, all whilst hefting a heavy staff.

She looks decidedly unladylike, for most.

Not that women with white hair and angry scars ought to give two shits about that. And she is mosying through the aisles of tents and stands with a metal tankard in one hand, and a smile on her face. Is she enjoying herself? Apparently. Because who the heck isn't a fan of a good cookout? Insane folks, that's who. She eventually comes within eyeshot of the Prince of Barbant, and offers him a salute by holding up her beer.

Party up.

After tasting a few slices of different cheese, Shaffan makes a comment to the merchants about the types he enjoyed the most and then moves to where he can taste some Flatlandish drinks. "Ah! Finally, that's my forte!" He laughs and winks to the person who serves the drinks. "Which one of these is the strongest? Ah, this one? Alright!" He reaches for the glass. The man sniffs a drink and nods for himself. "Yes. I definitely need that cheese now!" So, he goes back to the previous stall where he takes a few slices of a perfect snack to go with a drink. Pleased with his choice, the Prince of Carthage moves closer to where the children are playing. He studies the game and their moves as if to learn from kids' mistakes and not to repeat them himself.

"Their legs are too short.", Andre explains dryly, watching Jacquet pick up the bitterballen and bite into it. "Be careful, they're fresh out of the fryer and very hot.", he warns, perhaps a second or two too late. Clearly accidentally. "Hugo, have you tried them?", he asks his friend, although bitterballen would clearly feature in their mancave. "If you want something sweeter.", he tells both of them, "Try our oliebollen." Which are also fried balls, but made of fluffy dough and dusted with white powdery sugar. He beckons the serving girl who is currently distributing them over. Meanwhile the Carthaginian is being kept happy with various sorts of cheese. And the new arrival who salutes Andre? He offers her a smile and … a bitterballen.

Jacquet turns his gaze towards Hugo, and the wry twist of his vague smile indicates both amusement and scepticism. "It's a sport for boys.", he rasps. "No challenge for seasoned warriors or soldiers." His dark eyes look once again towards the river. "It's a question of aim, of a leap at just the right momentum, and of tenacity." He snorts. "A game of agility. Not too hard." The white-haired lady catches his eye, but a city guard should know each Mereliot by sight at least, and so Jacquet offers her a respectful incline of his head, accompanied by the characteristic tip of his fingers to an imaginary helmet he is not wearing at the moment. He takes another bite of the bitterballen, finishing it off, before wiping his hand on his cloak. Nevermind the bitterballen had been burning his lips, but not in a way that would make a Camaeline even twitch a brow.

Adeline shakes her head at Andre's offer.

"Thank you, your Excellency, but — " She makes a momentary smile. " — my hands are occupied." Which they are. She looks past him at the children playing. "Interesting sport," she remarks mildly, but showing otherwise very little interest in it. "Although, I pray, that is not the competition you had alluded to when we last spoke, is it?"

"I've no intention of going anywhere near water as I am attired."

"You'll be giving it a go, then?" Hugo asks of the sergeant, foam from the head of his beer leaving a trace in what he would like to consider the beginnings of a moustache but, face it, we've all seen more hairs on bacon. He claims a piece of cheese from a passing server, holding that up when he's offered bitterballen. "Cheeses for me to start with, buddy. Save the dough for after I've demonstrated my marvellous agility, poise and dexterity. Or fallen in the water. Whichever." He grins cheerfully, dimples deepening as he does.

Two glasses and seven slices of cheese. They do make the Prince of Carthage quite happy. He sets empty goblet on a tray and then gets a napkin to clean off his fingers. Cheese, after all! Then a young man stretches as if preparing for a competition. He moves closer to the part where the scene for the adults is being prepared. He settles down on a nearby bench and simply takes time to observe and enjoy a very pleasant weather.

"It is indeed the competition.", Andre confirms for Adeline, looking her up and down with a smile. "I fear you may be a little overdressed but I trust you are wearing some sort of pants under that?" He gestures to her lower half, then looks over to where some little ginger boy just goes splotch, "You are not supposed to go INTO the water. You are supposed to vault over it and stay dry. Hugo here has been practising and will be happy to demonstrate." Unless he's too busy scoffing cheese. Andre begins looking around for his fellow Flatlandish merchants and claps his hands. "I believe it is time for the competition!"

"Competition, eh?" Jacquet watches the preparations. The question from Hugo earns the young lord a look. "Why not. And be it just…" He shrugs, maybe not really on duty after all. "To show the young lads how it's done." He glances towards André, raising his voice just a little. "Any limitations on who can take part?"

Adeline says something indelicate; not worth repeating.

With a sigh of resignation, she just gets ready. That means getting out of her armor. Doing that takes effort and time; thankfully, brigandine is easier to get off than full plate mail. Not much, but definitely easier. It still takes her ten minutes or so to take off the bits and pieces that make up her suit, until she is down to a set of trousers and cloth gambeson. That means no pauldrons, no greaves, no gauntlets.

And definitely no staff mace.

Hugo sets down his empty glass, wiping his lips with the back of his hand as he saunters over to where Andre is giving his announcements. "Wait… I'm demonstrating?" he asks, looking around as though perhaps there's another Hugo here. Seeing none, however, he shrugs amiably and sits himself down on the ground to begin pulling off his boots. "Ah, fair enough. You explain how it works, and I'll take a run at it and try not to make a complete tit of myself, eh?"

Clearly the Flatlanders are all far too good at canal jumping, so a demonstration would only be discouraging for the locals. Better to let Hugo make a tit of himself. "It's all very easy.", Andre explains to the hopefuls who want to take part. Now that the last soggy kids have left the river, he points at the upright pole sticking out in the middle. "You run towards it, gather steam for a leap. You leap onto the pole. Of course gravity will now make the pole lean towards the other shore. You have a few seconds to climb up the pole as far as you can before you jump onto the other shore. The higher you get onto the pole, the further you can jump. Stands to reason." He rubs his hands gleefully and gestures for Hugo to demonstrate.

Enjoying the sun and a pleasant view of curious pretty people mingling in the crowd and studying the unique offers of the Flatland, Shaffan opens up his jacket and withdraws a very small bottle from his inside pocket. The bottle is made of a dark glass and so one can not see nor with what, nor how much it's filled. The young man takes out a small cork and then turns the bottle upside down. Three drops of a light green liquid fall on the tip of his tongue. He swallows it and puts the bottle back into his "secret" pocket. Then Shaffan leans back and drops his head backwards to stare at the sky and clouds which barely move since there is only a light breeze outside. It seems that it takes a bit of time for the Prince to realize that everyone has been invited to the competition. So, he raises back to his feet only when majority of the people are already gathered. If needed, he will push through the gawkers to end up in the line of competitors. "Finally!" He says for himself and chuckles.

Well, it seems simple enough.

Not that anything is ever simple. If athletics were so, they would not be so competitive. Unless, of course, it were an enjoyable sport to watch. Or to participate in. Or to gamble on. Not that anyone out there is gambling on the outcome, are they? Whatever. The crowd is gathering, and the competitors are getting ready to take their turn.

Like Shaffan, Adeline jockeys into position to take her turn in queue.

Jacquet takes André's response as a 'yes'. As people are moving towards the river, he follows along, ending up in the line of people wishing to compete. The way he discards his tabard and armor is quick and efficient. His sword and scabbard are wrapped into his cloak, and he kicks off his boots, one after the other. Merely wearing an old shirt and trousers of leather, he runs his hands through his dark oily hair, pulling it back so that it does not get in the way. "Sign me up," he says to André or whoever would like to listen. "Sergeant of the City Guard."

A lackey is signing up everyone who wants to compete and a few hapless unprepared competitors are quick to either slide down the pole and into the water or somehow make it to the other shore where their knees and ankles won't thank them for their landing. Finally the last four competitors are being called up - Shaffan, Jacquet, Adeline and Hugo.

<FS3> Hugo rolls Body+body: Good Success. (1 7 6 3 1 8)
<FS3> Hugo rolls Reaction+reaction: Great Success. (2 1 7 7 6 5 7 3 7 3)

Hugo moves to the edge of the stream, turns, and takes four long, carefully measured strides back away from it. Marking his spot from which to start then, he turns back to eye up the pole, cracks his knuckles in front of him, then drops into a position ready to run. Four paces back to the edge of the river at a sprint, and then he leaps for the pole, grabbing it with both hands and beginning to scramble up it with the nimble agility of a trained sailor. Finally, as the pole begins to veer dangerously low on the other side, he launches himself from it and onto the far bank, skidding forward in the dirt as he aims to make the furthest distance he can. There. Simple!

<FS3> Shaffan rolls Body+Body: Success. (6 2 7 5)
<FS3> Shaffan rolls Reaction+Reaction: Success. (1 3 5 4 7 3)

The Prince takes off his shoes as well by throwing them quite casually on the grass. One boot ends up in a bit further distance than the other. Then a foreign man drops his jacket somewhere between those shoes. "Give it to me!" He shouts out. "This looks absolutely fun! We should have tournaments for something like this instead of a swordplay!" He laughs and same way as Jacquet, informs the responsible party: "Shaffan Zamani. Ready to jump! sign me up." And he moves to the line where he can take his turn when the time comes.

When Carthagian is called to show his strength and agility, he takes a minute or two to focus and then runs towards the pole. He Jumps forward and extends his hands to catch that thin pole. Once his arms wrap up around the pole, the young man starts climbing up. But god damn that thing is quick to land on the other side and the Prince flops in all his glory - face down into the sand. He lets go of the pole, rolls on his back and laughs. "This is amazing! Could do this all day long! Was I good or was I terrible?" He takes a look at the judge.

<FS3> Jacquet rolls Body+Body: Good Success. (1 8 7 6 3 5 8 3)
<FS3> Jacquet rolls Reaction+Reaction: Good Success. (2 8 3 7 7 3 5 6)

<FS3> Adeline rolls Body+Body: Good Success. (6 1 8 3 5 7)
<FS3> Adeline rolls Reaction+Reaction: Success. (3 5 5 7 1 2 5 1)

His eyes may have narrowed a little, upon observing the very agile sailor-esque pole-jump of the young Lord Hugo. But here comes a Camaeline, countering Azzallese grace with a more grounded sort of athletics. Jacquet runs, and he jumps, arms reaching to get a good grip of the pole he manages to climb as high as Hugo had managed to. There is no lightness, no grace in his motions, merely the determination and efficiency of a man trained to be a soldier. His timing may be lacking a little, but still, it remains a good show of skill — especially when considering that Jacquet is probably more than twice Hugo's age.

Adeline isn't Camaeline, but she has the same attitude.

Like Jacquet, she leaps powerfully, rather than gracefully. She pulls herself up the pole by will, rather than with the elegance of an Eisandian Lady. Not that she really looks like one in her attire, which keeps her anonymity safe. She makes it to shore, but without the distance that Jacquet can manage.

One might blame her delicate nature for her showing.

"You did well, Sir.", the nearest judge tells Shaffan politely. Luckily they didn't hand out style points for prettiest leap. The spectators, by now nicely steeped in Flatlandish beer and jenever, applaud every contestant wildly and with roars of approval. When the last ones have made it through, the judges go into a quick huddle to compare notes and distances. Some lackey hands out mini bottles of jenever to every contestant so they can warm up if they got wet or just drown their frustration for not having jumped as far as they might have hoped.

Finally Andre looks at the waiting contestants with a smile. "Well, that was amazing!", he declares, "The best results have been achieved by young Hugo de Trevalion and … uh, Monsieur Jacquet of the City Guard.". No other name was given, so it will have to do, "You will both jump again to see who will win the main prize, a wheel of the best Flatlandish cheese from the fair city of Gouda."

Hugo lets out a laugh and offers his hand to his fellow contestants, each in turn. "Andre," he calls back over, shaking his head. "I decline. I have the advantage of a lot of practice, and this fellow still managed a finer jump. Monsieur Jacquet," he adds, turning to give a deep bow to the guardsman, "Well played, well jumped, and a deserved win, I think?"

Pleased with the answer, Shaffan moves back to the bench where he has been sitting before. Of course, he gathers his boots and jacket first. Then he observers the rest of the competition, cheering for the two finalists and enjoying the event.

"M'lord." Jacquet gives Hugo a shake of his head. "You're generous, but I don't think I should accept your generosity." He snorts. "I'd like to win through my skill, not because a young lad decides it's good manners to let the older one win." He smiles. "Nah. Let's have a second round. Let's give the crowd another show."

<FS3> Jacquet rolls Body+Body: Success. (3 5 3 2 7 5 1 3)
<FS3> Jacquet rolls Reaction+Reaction: Good Success. (7 4 5 3 4 3 7 7)

<FS3> Hugo rolls Body+body: Good Success. (6 1 8 1 7 2)
<FS3> Hugo rolls Reaction+reaction: Great Success. (8 4 7 2 1 8 4 6 8 4)

Seeing as how she's not in the running for the Cheese Championship, Adeline just waits and watches from the sidelines.

Hugo inclines his head to the guardsman, eyeing up the pole once again as he takes four long paces back from the water's edge. It becomes apparent that yes, he has been practicing, as once again he sets intoa short sprint, leaps for the pole and scrambles up it like a monkey, releasing it at just the right moment to get another solid, long jump in as he lands, safe and dry on the other side.

And Jacquet goes at it right away, running towards the river to jump at the pole for another time. But he doesn't get a good grip, not as good as on his first attempt. Managing to climb a little but not as high as he would have liked. Letting go of the pole as ut bends towards the other shore, Jacquet lands on his feet and solid ground. Watching Hugo's display of youthful prowess, he cannot help but smile and give the young lord a clap to his shoulder. "Well done, m'lord."

It was cheese well-earned. Two Flatlandish merchants toddle forwards in traditionel wooden shoes, carrying the cheese wheel between them to offer it to Hugo. There's a round of applause for the fair winner. "Congratulations, Hugo!", Andre calls out to his friend. Jacquet will not leave empty-handed though. Another merchant presents him with a small basket containing four different sorts of cheeses "to take home to the wife." As people begin to drift back from the river to the stalls, Andre joins Adeline. "You did well, I hope you had fun."

Hugo can't help but give Jacquet a broad smile, offering his hand once more. "A good showing all round, I think," he demurs. "Here, I'm never going to eat that much cheese, is it considered poor manners to split it among everyone who competed?" he asks, ostenisbly of Jacquet, but with his voice raised enough to carry to both Andre and his fellow competitors.

"It was interesting."

Adeline's one of those people that seems annoying nonplussed about everything. You know, one of those people who isn't very fun at parties. "But, thank you, your Excellency." Beat. "It was interesting." That's all she was to say about that, apparently; thereafter, she goes back to where she left her gear — her armor and weaponry — and starts to re-arm herself.

Probably feels naked with it.

As Adeline walks away, Andre talks to a few other people before he hears Hugo's inquiry and turns towards him. "It's yours to do whatever you please with.", he explains, though the tone is a bit discouraging. Besides, people are already back at the stalls, stuffing their faces. "Perhaps take it home, share with your family, friends, servants?", he suggests, voice now quieter as he's caught up with his friend. Then he's being called away again by a merchant, who has some local bigwig at his elbow willing to talk trade deals.

"Cheese, hmm?" Jacquet gathers his things and redons his armor. "Well, yes. I hear it's great to have along with a good red wine from Eisande." He nods towards Hugo, and then towards Andre as well. Putting on his sword belt, before he vanishes in the crowd.

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