(1311-10-15) Beneath Fortunate Stars
Summary: A rainy afternoon at La Perle Noire sees a chance meeting of fortune-telling enthusiasts — and a few attempts at flirtation, with varying success!
RL Date: 10/15/2019
Related: None
antoinette etienne hase safiye symon tashira 

La Perle Noire — Grand Plaza

The face this establishment shows to the Grand Plaza is a window display of coffee beans in a fantastic blown-glass vase, against figured silk which changes with the seasons; and a pair of heavy oaken doors guarded by a swarthy, bearded, well-muscled man in Ephesian costume, who bows patrons out of Terre d'Ange and into a foreign land redolent of fine coffee and cinnamon and tobacco, lit by countless candles suspended each in a gleaming glass lantern from a ceiling that billows with ruby-red silk and cloth of gold. Layered carpets of many colours, intricately woven and warmed in winter by a hypocaust, soften the music of pipes and drums and mandolins that filters through this sanctuary of civilised pleasures. Here a friendship might be forged or renewed, a deal struck, or a day simply whiled away in Eastern opulence and ease, amidst the red and the gold and the smoke.

In the middle of the main lounge is a raised circular stage upon which an horologist's glass marks the lapse of two hours between performances by Ephesian dancing girls, or minstrels singing joyously in the tongue of that land, or even a local d'Angeline bard telling tall tales. Low tables of dark wood radiate therefrom, surrounded by lounging cushions and richly-upholstered divans; the outermost are set in alcoves which may for privacy's sake be screened by shimmering silken curtains. If one desires amusement, one may summon at any hour alluring dancers whose brass finger-cymbals chime to accent the undulations of their hips. If one wishes to smoke, one may command a water pipe. But the true business of the house is the coffee. Perfumed young men in loose trousers and embroidered tunics move to and fro like angels dispensing this liquid mercy: strong, fragrant, frothing kahve, brewed cup by cup from the fine-ground black pearls of Ephesium, served in elaborate copper vessels beside tall glasses of pure spring water and plates of esoteric and delectable foreign sweetmeats.

Several sets of doors at the rear of the lounge lead away to the kitchens; to a stairway ascending toward smaller chambers which may be reserved for private parties; and outside into a courtyard, open in fair weather.

The listless drizzle outside is enough to drive anyone indoors, and Antoinette has found a favorite place so far in Marsilikos. Black velvet breeches and pale stockings with dark leather shoes are matched with a men's waistcoat and coat tailored for her figure, jabot of lace and lace sleeves from a pale shirt underneath contrasting both the dark velvet and the gold embroidery forming decorative whorls. Eyes darkened with kohl to the point their violet is haunting are focused on one of the musicians playing as she sits back on a low cushion, dainty hands embracing a copper cup.

The drizzle has left raindrops like small gems in Étienne's hair. It's loose today and his cheeks are flushed with excitement as he leads Lord Symon into the shop, "You have to try it. It's a pleasant sort of bitter like tea, but rich like chocolate. The little sweet contrasts perfectly." His accent is northern and gentry, rather than elevated. He's in a northern-cut tunic of black with forest green embroidery, wearing his best boots, dyed green to match. A light cloak in greyish blue is mostly keeping him dry.

"Oh, do I like b…bitter?" Symon self-questions, or maybe he's expecting Étienne to remember. He's in his good blue clothes of a quality to coordinate with Étienne's, but he has a camel-colored cloak on, too, which has kept his own thick, dark hair clear of raindrops.

Häse might be wearing the wrong face for a coffee-house; a manner of idle lethargy that should have been long swept away by the fervor of the bean rests pleasurably about her features while she half-reclines, leonine, on an elbow on a cushion on the floor there in the back. She's got a dainty pastry in her elbow-hand, and the other is picking off sections of it for her to nibble on, the honied confection in the center half-squeezing out at the dismemberment of the pastry around it. But that's alright, now she can taste the torn-off top of the pastry, then take the rest in her free hand and reach out to squeeze it into her coffee and give it a stir with the remaining breadstuff.

Halfway leaning forward after the pipe, Antoinette takes a long drag from it, cloves scenting the exhaled smoke as it hangs about her head. Her lips curl into wide grin as she hears the enthusiasm of Étienne and she offers across several feet in response, "Isn't this place the best?" She curls her legs into a position with each foot under the opposite knee as she sits, the breeches doing a marvelous job of not getting bunched or tugged as a skirt might. A hand lifts to half cover her lips, her eyes smiling still at Symon's questioning.

Étienne thinks it over, "I'm not sure. I know your taste in wine, but not in other drinks. It's very strong and it makes you feel like moving. So maybe the opposite of wine?" He turns startlingly cornflower blue eyes on Antoinette, "Have you met the owner yet? She's fascinating."

"W…well, no, I don't think so," Symon says, turning to look in Antoinette's direction. "So I suppose you m…must introduce me. Only I can't imagine the opposite of w-wine. It is like trying to imagine a new color.” He squints, distracted by the belated recognition of Haese. "Oh, I know her." A wave acknowledges.

Häse draws her drenched pastry up from her cup, leaning over it to catch it in her teeth before it can drip coffee all over the table, then sucking down the tip with the help of the gentle pressure of a fingertip that covers her lips in the aftermath to keep them together despite her cheeks-full morsel. She catches Symon noticing her and she smiles, more with her moss-green eyes than with her actual mouth, then wiggles her fingers hello.

Shaking her head, Antoinette fixes her attention on Étienne. Eyes like amethysts ablaze and ringed in sooty lashes shift from mirth to curiosity as she regards him, then back to mirth again as she listens to Symon's color analogy. She lifts her drink for another sip. Ah, caffeine and nicotine. A genuinely addictive pairing and savored as much as the entertainment if not more so.

Étienne smiles at Symon, "Oh, I don't see her. The proprietress, I mean. I've never met anyone like her before. She's striking and she has this wonderful voice. I've never met a woman who sounds like that before." He looks like he's thinking hard, "I don't think I can imagine a new color, but we can drink coffee together." He is very graceful, though whether his sword-master or his dancing-master deserve the praise for it, it's hard to tell. He peers at Hase, then Symon, "A friend of yours?" He bows to Antoinette with the clean elegance of a crane's wing, "I'm Étienne d'Arguil, heir to Berck." Hence the Azzallese accent. "And this is Lord Symon de Perigeux."

Tashira has managed to sneak her way inside it would seem. Barefoot the Tsingani woman pads her way accross the floor trying not to be noticed as she peers around. She spots some familiar faces but merely smiles and tries to sneak by unseen. Still its hard for one wearing so much silver coin to sneak and truly the woman is terrible at it. She jingles as she walks praying she goes unnoticed or at least doesn't get tossed out before she can get herself a drink.

"Oh," says Symon. "I thought…" He lets it go. "Is she foreign, the owner?" He tilts his head at this question about Haese. "W…we've chatted a few times. She told m-my fortune." He nudges Étienne's arm. "Oh, b-but yes, let us have a coffee."

Naturally as soon as that well-dressed pair, Symon and Étienne, should settle upon a divan in the vicinity of Antoinette though not so very far from Häse either, a perfumed and silk-slippered young man will come gliding across to bow to them, to receive their order for coffee, and to assure them of La Perle's pleasure in welcoming them today. (Another such young man is probably already detailed to keep an eye upon Tashira's peregrinations.)

A radiant smile plays off Antoinette's features as Étienne introduces himself. She offers in turn, "Antoinette Verreuil, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." That she spots, or rather hears, Tashira, is given away when she looks right at her, but her eyes shift to look past toward a silk panel as one offers the Tsingano a subtle wink, and then Symon says something about fortunes. She looks to Hase with rapt curiosity then, and asks her, "What sort of fortune telling. Tarot, tea leaves? I do natal charts," spills forth with a touch of excitement.

Étienne practically purrs, "Ephesian." He settles in comfortably, adding an order of Ephesian delight, "Oh! This is the fortune teller. I wonder what my fortune would be? The service is amazing here." A dimpled smile for Antoinette, "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Häse almost hadn't quite realized she was being spoken to; a jingle in the corner of her ear and the sweet taste of the honey-cream coffee and her eyes are somewhat distant. But then someone is saying, 'I do natal charts,' and Haese is half-woken to the world, only to find it's being said to her, of all people, and her smile draws ear to ear as she sits up onto a hip. "You do natal charts? How clever! Where did you learn them?" she wonders. "I've been studying the cards of Marsilikos. More for myself than to give readings, yet, but I'm happy for friends who don't mind me practicing on them."

Symon looks upward, obviously trying to imagine where on his mental map Ephesia could possibly go. "It w…was a lovely reading," Symon says warmly when he's given up on mental geography.

Tashira wanders quietly catching the wink from Antoninette and grinning in return. The blue clad Tsingani with her silver coin jewelry slowly makes her way over to the group and curtsies. "Greetings. You speak of fortune telling yes? I couldn't help but overhear…my apologies for interupting but that is something I happen to have a gift for." She smiles softly.

Head canting a little, Antoinette's features only grow more curious as she nods at Hase. "You do? Fascinating, I have never had my cards done." Of the source of her introduction to astrology she says, "Menekhet. They draw the stars over the tombs of kings resting for centuries." Musing, she adds, "Though natal charts are less typical of a fortune telling aspect as they are a fixed diagram of the heavenly bodies at the time of one's birth." She can only smile at how much Étienne seems to like Ephesian things - she relates if with Menekhet more so, still, she relates. Her smile for Tashira is warm and she says, "Lovely to meet you again, no Raven this time?"

Étienne is watching Symon's face closely enough to guess the unasked question. "The eastern part of the sea this port faces, Sweet Symon. And Menekhet is to our south. I don't mind being practiced on."

Symon seems a little startled to see a barefoot Tsingano step into their midst, since he hadn't noticed her before. "Oh," he says. Is she even supposed to be in here? He looks to Étienne. "The eastern p-part of…yes, I see."

To the staff of the house — near enough to witness but not to overhear the talk — it appears that Tashira came seeking Antoinette, and has found her. Provided the Tsingano interloper is a welcome guest of a young noblewoman, and provided she is paid for by said noblewoman, she's not in danger of being expelled… yet.

Tashira smiles warmly to Antoinette and shakes her head. "Raven is taking her nap. I'll have to bring her along next time perhaps. May I join you my lady?" She peers at Symon and Étienne shyly looking a bit uncertain. "That is if your company does not mind? If I am permitted to join, perhaps I could tell you about the Tsingani method of fortune telling?"

"I'm Haese," the one thus named calls out from where she's seated just moderately too comfortably to get up and move, while she's still in conversational range. "And I thought the purpose of a natal chart was to sort of compare it to the current motions of the stars and everything?" She's earnest, here, not explanatory… she'd never really been inducted into the ranks of the astrologers and damned if it isn't a cool prospect. "I'd be happy to read for you sometime— whenever you want, really," she tips up her shoulders with a jolly smile, and then is interested further to hear which method the Tsingano will discuss. Sip.

Not only coffee and sweets and tobacco in another pipe for Tashira but also a savory spread is the subject of Antoinette's quiet words with one of the server's. She's heard at least, of an establishment nearby and their agreement with regards to meals in the establishment. Just what said food will be? Well, she's never tried it so that will be a surprise to her as well. She asks Étienne, "Do you travel much, or just an ardent study of geography?" She gestures to a seat nearby in unspoken invitation for the Tsingano, "I had heard that some of your people had such a gift," she says, she nods, "I would love to hear more." She muses as she regard Hase, "For horoscopes this is true. But you also have synastry charts which compare the compatibility of people, and the natal charts themselves an be quite informative too."

"Haese," Symon says, looking her way. "How do the stars m…move? And w-why? I can't seem to sort it out. I asked b-before and it w…was something about navigating b-by the stars and all that b-but I don't understand where they go?" He squints at the thought. "And are our fates really b-bound in that? Do they m…move unexpectedly?"

Étienne is eyeing the Tsingano with some curiosity. "If you think of the sea as an oval that is longer east to west, we're sort of north west." He draws the shape with his finger. Menekhet is across the short part of the oval. South and a little easterly. Ephesium is over here to the east." He moves his finger to illustrate on the imaginary map he's drawing. "Tiberium, where my cousin went on his trip, is closer. About here. I can show you in a book when we go home later if you like." He looks around eagerly for approaching refreshments, "I fear I am more familiar with navigational charts than natal ones.”

So simple an order as coffee service for two, placed earlier than Antoinette's, arrives earlier too: another of the perfumed young men, his garb and his bow indistinguishable from the first, serves Symon and Étienne each with a wrought copper cup of fragrant and frothy, fresh-brewed Ephesian coffee, and a tall glass of spring water with which to chase it down. On a colourful Anatolian pottery dish with a pattern suggestive of peacock feathers, is lemon-flavoured Ephesian delight not for two but for four, as Étienne desired. The waiter bows again and withdraws.

The water pipe for Antoinette's curious guest is the next of the house's pleasures to be bestowed; moments later, Tashira is served too with the same traditional Ephesian coffee service but rather a smaller dish of sweets. An accented murmur in Antoinette's ear suggests that the more savoury fare she desires will shortly follow.

Sliding into the open seat Tashira smiles gratefully to Antoinette. Picking up the coffee she takes a small sip from it. Noting Étienne is watching her she smiles shyly to him over the rim of her cup and inclines her head. She listens as they speak of the sea and stars with interest smiling softly and taking another slow sip of the coffee.

Why do the stars move? "Why do the stars move?" Haese repeats the question to herself, then out loud once more for good measure. "I always thought that the stars weren't really things, they were just holes where the dome of heaven is worn from its constant wheeling, and where you can see the fire that dwells above it and comes down in the form of lightning when clouds and storms upset the heavens further. But there are other stars that move on their own, the wandering stars that don't go in tandem with the rest, so… I don't know what those are doing," she offers up her mild suppositions with a half-smile. "And I would find it hard to believe that such a magnificent working of the world means nothing to us, or that we should ignore it. But I haven't made a study of the horoscopy, it seems very complicated."

Étienne lowers his lashes, "It's an acquired taste. Try a sip of the coffee and then a nibble of the sweet." He demonstrates, clearly excited to be showing Symon something new. He shrugs, "There are theories about why, but I like that you can use their positions to navigate as they move in mostly predictable ways. Except for falling stars, of course. Even the wandering stars have courses."

"They really don't, no," Antoinette answers Symon. "You might have an unknown comet appear, or an asteroid, but comets like the planets and stars also have a cycle sort of the way the seasons have a cycle," she sets out to explain. "And then you have some stars which are so constant that they are used to navigate by, such as Sirius," she expounds, more than happy to wax on at length on one of the subjects studied at University before coming to Marsilikos. Noticing the peacock like coloring of the dish, her eyes linger admiring it for a beat and she smiles at Étienne, "If we did not each have our own strengths, life would be lacking in so many surprises and opportunities for learning and new delights." She grins at Hase and admits, "While tarot is also fascinating it must be confessed I find it similarly daunting."

"Oh, hello," Symon says to the fellow serving them, and then looks curiously into this cup. "Oh, it's dark," he observes. He looks back up to Haese. "So if they are holes, w…will they break apart one day?" He tries the coffee and then makes a bit of a suspicious face at Étienne. "Tastes of earth," he comments, but reaches for the sweet. "The smell m-makes me hungry, though." He looks then to Antoinette in her turn. "So then the star chart reading is a m…matter mostly of wandering stars," he concludes.

Another of the cohort of perfumed Ephesian boys arrives with a larger tray, laden with dishes in several different co-ordinating though not matching patterns. Several kinds of richly textured breads from a local bakery, sliced into convenient pieces — various things to dip them in, or spread upon them — cheeses, olives, and other tidbits offering ample contrast to the sweetness of Ephesian delight. These he disposes upon Antoinette's table in a thoughtful and symmetrical pattern, along with fresh napkins.

Nodding softly, Antoinette tells Symon, "All the heavenly bodies to some degree. During each month of the year, the Sun is passing through one of twelve constellations, like the centaur of sagittarius, or the fish of Pisces, and the combination has an impact on us, not dissimilar to the way the moon influences tides, our bodies being so much water as well. Many of the planets are somewhat self explanatory if you know much about Hellene or Tiberian pantheons, as the planetary bodies functions are based on names for their deities, like the planet Venus rules romance, so named after one of their goddesses associated with love, same with Mars and war."

Étienne gazes at Symon as if the stars revolve around him, "They haven't come apart yet and show no sign of doing so, whether holes in paper or dancing spheres…. Don't Venus and Mars love each other in Tiberian stories?"

"And there have been stars for a very long time, surely," Symon reasons, looking at Étienne. "I expect ancient people wrote about them, too." That is reassuring, at least, that the stars will not break! As he is mulling over this, and dipping down for another taste of the coffee he's still on the fence about, a messenger boy trots in with a paper. Symon peers at it, then pops up. "Sorry, I w…won't b-be a m…minute," he says, and slips out.

"It's true, they haven't, yet," Haese laughs brightly, becoming moderately more wakeful the longer the interview continues. "Though there are always takes of new ones having appeared now and then. Maybe there will be so many of them one day it will be daytime all through the night. But I doubt it will happen in as many generations of man as there are grains of sand on the beach."

With a deep nod, Antoinette smiles at Étienne and says, "Yes, well, on and off. They have children together in the version with Ares but it is always somewhat contentious." She adds, "I am somewhat more familiar with the Hellene mythos than the Tiberian." She smiles and nods at Hase's talk of new stars, before going on to say, "Venus can also be compared to romance versus Mars as sexuality, the moon with emotions, Mercury with communication." Her thanks to the servers is there if belated to finish the thought but a discreet extra bit of coin in tip is offered too by way of apology for that.

Étienne nods, "Ancient people did, yes. The sky will not fall on us tonight, Sweet Symon." He sips his coffee carefully, "I'm not clever like my cousin. He studies natural philosophy and is a poet. I can find north in the sky and the like, but the multiplication of stars is beyond me." He nibbles a sweet, "I don’t think anyone is all one thing their whole lives. I'm not sure how stars can… set a person's personality."

"What day were you born?" Antoinette asks of Étienne, violet eyes drifting back to study his features as if searching for something. Rather than try to refute his premise, she would instead, it seems, like to try and demonstrate how much even just that can reveal. She picks up some bread, nibbling on it and some cheese and gesturing to the dishes in quiet invitation to the rest at the table to help themselves as well if they wish. "I would not say that a mirror defines a person's looks, but instead reflects them, and feel the same sort of thing could be said of the stars, not that they define a man but that they can tell you a lot about him, if that makes more sense?"

Étienne says, "June the twenty-second… I guess it makes no sense to me that stars moving in predictable patterns can reflect a multitude of people born on the same day while free will exists. The people diverge, the stars don't."

Giving a deep nod, Antoinette smiles and says with another long look at Étienne, "Taking a stab from just your birthday but not accounting for time or location here." She gestures to Étienne and assesses, "Your family means more to you than family does to most, but not just family who you may butt heads with, more than that, your /home/ means more. You are stubborn and loyal, and much more emotional than you let on. You are on some quiet level deeply romantic and it is just possible that when you get so angry you cannot contain it, you might well tear up as you speak." Beat. Then she asks, "How did I do?"

Étienne laughs softly, "I love my family, but here means more to me than home just now. I'm not sure I'm particularly stubborn or wrathful. Romantic, yes."

Once the company thins out some, Antoinette has a chance to focus more on Étienne and his laughter seems catching as it draws the same from her. "I did not mean to imply you were particularly wrathful only that anger might be accompanied by unwilling tears, but then, the sun is a broad strokes overview and makes up only about ten to fifteen percent of a chart. Admittedly, my curiosity is piqued about the rest." She asks then, "You say 'just now'? Why now, if it isn't too intrusive of me to ask."

When the Tsingano woman has slipped away again in another silvery jingle, considerably better-fed than when she arrived and on someone else’s tab — a softer, golden sound announces the passage of Safiye Hanim, the proprietress of the establishment, a matronly figure in blue and orange and turquoise silks and fragrant, as always, of the East.

“My lord d’Arguil,” she greets Étienne first of all, “it is a pleasure to have you amongst us again.” She inclines her head to him and then to Antoinette; with each gesture her earrings chime. “My lady Verreuil. I hope you found the fare was to your taste, and your friend’s as well.” Is that a note of question in her husky, velvety voice that so fascinates northern lads—?

Étienne says, "Because this is wear I want to be, in this vast, beautiful city where people from all over the world meet and talk and eat. Each day here is an adventure." He rises at the appearance of the proprietress and gives her another of his elegant bows. "It is an honor to see you again, as I have thought much about our first meetings. I brought Lord Perigeux to try your coffee, but I fear he was called away after the first few sips."

She talks a good game and her eyes are a deep rich violet indicative of her mother's l'Envers hand in her creation but Antoinette's eyes show some quiet math being done, note made of Étienne's response, cataloguing it away to turn over later. The arrival of Safiye sees her looking with wide eyed delight at the woman's silks and gushing enthusiastically, "It is positively delightful to make your acquaintance, yes, thank you." She nods vigorously before telling her, "I had pictured the one responsible for such a lustrous gem would be beautiful but it would appear my imagination is lacking for it did you poor justice."

“Oh?” Safiye inquires gently and rhetorically of Étienne, half-bowing to him as he bows to her. “No doubt the heir to a marquisate has many calls upon his time,” she suggests, all husky sympathy. “Please give Lord Perigeux my regards and let him know that he is always welcome here, if he cares to try another cup of coffee one day as my guest.” Then, the smile broadening upon her pleasingly asymmetrical features as she turns to young Antoinette: “My lady, you are very kind. I hope I am not interrupting your pleasures today—” And she looks again between Antoinette and Étienne, having found them in conversation. “I came thinking only to make sure of them. Would you care for another pipe, my lady?” she asks Antoinette.

Étienne's lip curls up in response to Safiye's image of Symon's business, but he does not correct the impression, "I'm sure he'll come again. I fear I talked his ear off about my last visit here." He eyes the pipe, still a bit unsure of smoking as a concept, but liking the way the smoke looks curling up from lips and nostrils.

Some surprise registers at Safiye's question. Antoinette had gotten so distracted with talking that she did not even remember the pipe for the longest and at the offer she says softly, "If you would be so kind, I would greatly appreciate it." She looks from Safiye to Étienne and back before asking, "Would you care to join us?" as she looks up to the lovely, stately elder woman. She smiles anew as she adds, "You are neither interrupting nor unwelcome, my lord has spoken highly of your company," with a gesture to Étienne.

Safiye’s hand upon the arm of a waiter carrying coffee to another table, and a few words of her own tongue spoken in an undertone, suffice to commission Antoinette’s next taste of fragrant Ephesian tobacco; looking back to the lady she smiles and concedes, “For a moment perhaps, if you desire it, my lady.” She settles at the edge of the divan where Tashira earlier sat, forming a triangle with the two young nobles. “I wonder, my lord, my lady,” she asks gently, her warm dark eyes meeting those of her companions in turn, “what it is I am not interrupting—?”

Étienne blushes noticeably as he hides his face in his cup. He admits, "I would very much enjoy another conversation." He gazes at Safiye with those guileless lapis coloured eyes, "Interrupting?"

<FS3> Antoinette rolls Presence: Good Success. (4 2 8 5 7)

With a bit of cheek, Antoinette grins at Safiye and offers, "My poor attempts to flirt with the rare nobleman with facial hair."

Taking Étienne’s colour as a tribute to Antoinette’s blooming loveliness rather than her own that is by now well-withered, Safiye draws in a breath and then murmurs a light, “Ah.” Her smile travels again between them, almost maternally. “I still forget sometimes the marvelous freedoms enjoyed by the young people of your land… Perhaps, my lady—” She suggests, “Remember that you are fortunate, whether or not your bravery meets with success.” On which note a perfumed waiter arrives with tobacco, to add to Antoinette’s present state of good fortune.

Étienne blinks his long black lashes in surprise at Antoinette. Then he's blushing again, "I'm sorry. You must think me a fusty nut with no kernel." Then he's gazing at Safiye, "The freedom of our land is not only for the young."

Brows perking, Antoinette's eyes sparkle with mirth and she shakes her head at Étienne, "I think you are interesting and I should like to know you better," she says, earnestly, before nodding at his latter assessment and looking to Safiye, "He speaks truly."

In receipt of those two youthful gazes — the one violet and the other blue, but near-twinned by their wide-eyed and encouraging air — Safiye clasps a hand to the curve of her silk-swathed bosom and laughs, a rich low ripple of husky amusement spilling over them both and turning a head or two at neighbouring tables. “Indeed,” she chuckles, “and I rejoice in making so many new friends… It is pleasant to be free to talk to anyone,” she admits, her hand opening in a gesture to them both, “who might come into my coffee-house to pass an idle hour.”

Étienne is now blushing to his ears, "I fear I am quite ordinary really. I love ships and dancing and… ordinary things. Mostly." He gazes at Safiye's fascinating asymmetry, that glorious bosom, "I could listen to you talk for hours and never be tired, with that lovely voice of yours." He looks down at the Ephesian delights, "I should take these to Symon though." He rises, sweeping his delights into his sleeve. "I shall carry the image of such rare beauties with me as I go, though."

"It sounds as if it were not always so," Antoinette says softly and half questioning as she looks up at Safiye. She adds softly and definitely questioning, "Would it be possible to set up some sort of tab or pay some in advance so that Tsingano girl could get a bite to eat here from time to time without need to worry about affording it?" Her eyes trail toward where Tashira got off to before looking back up at the woman. She smiles again, this time at Étienne and gives a soft dip of her chin, "Perhaps next time we can get to know one another better, as I sail and dance myself."

Safiye nods to Étienne. “My lord, you are too kind to pay me so many compliments,” she says gently, gathering from the angle of his gaze that this one is for her. Rather than answering Antoinette straight away she rises from the divan to bid him farewell. “I hope we shall have the honour of serving you and Lord Perigeux again very soon, my lord.”

Étienne ducks his head, "Perhaps. I… sometimes need a while to get to know a person properly." He pays, including extra coin for the pleasure of it all. He shakes his head, smiling a little sadly, "No compliments, only truth. I'm sure we’ll come again." He bows to them both a last time and then he's gone.

Antoinette gives a soft dip of her head at Étienne's words, "Bonne nuit, my lord."

An attentive waiter accepts the coins from Étienne’s hand and bows after him as he goes; Safiye murmurs a last courteous word and then, after a moment’s hesitation as she watches him go, resumes her seat on the divan opposite Antoinette. “A pleasant young man,” she observes, neutrally. “As for your request, my lady,” she goes on, choosing her words one by one as though she’s mulling it over only in that moment, “I am not certain we could accommodate it. La Perle is not a restaurant — I admire your generous heart, my lady, but I think you might find it more convenient to make provision for your friend elsewhere,” she says seriously.

"That's fair, but it was worth asking, I figured," Antoinette responds, with a slow nod. At Étienne's departure, her attention returns to Safiye, this time without being split between parties. When not trying to engage multiple people, she has a way of looking at a person with those soot framed eyes like dark amethysts as though the world aside from the person at hand had fallen away - rapt and engaged in listening. "I like his goatee," she says, simply, grinning at that. "I'm terribly sorry for prying a moment ago, people are always so curious and interesting I want to learn everything there is to know about them."

“Did you pry?” inquires Safiye with a guilelessness to match that of a young scion of Naamah, or indeed a boy of Azza’s lineage who shows his every thought upon his goatee’d features. Her eyes meet Antoinette’s confidently — warm and brown, animated by gentle intelligence. “I didn’t notice it, my lady,” she assures the girl, “and you owe me no apology.” Her gaze lifts; she looks about her lounge, softly buzzing with the conversation of well-heeled coffee enthusiasts, in a myriad of tongues. “La Perle does draw varied custom,” she mentions, looking back to Antoinette; “I hope you will always find your curiosity well-satisfied here, my lady.”

"I love this place," Antoinette confides, her admiration plain though of a decidedly less romantic nature than the departed Etienne's. She looks relieved to hear she had not pried too much, and asks softly, "What drew you to Marsilikos? For me it was a desire to see if the theory people were more open and receptive here than in other parts of Terre d'Ange," she offers of her own draw to the place.

Safiye smiles and bows her head. Again the graduated golden medallions of her earrings chime with her graceful motion. “I’m glad that you do, my lady Verreuil. I also am very fond of my pearl,” she confides, which can hardly come as a surprise. “I chose Marsilikos over the City of Elua because, yes, I think the people here are more welcoming to foreigners,” she says gently; “it is natural for a port, after all, than a place inland that knows fewer strangers. The weather is pleasant, and I like to be near the sea. It is no longer tale than that,” she disclaims, with a note of apology in her low voice. “I hope you will find Marsilikos as much to your taste as I have done, my lady, and that we shall often have the privilege of welcoming you to La Perle.”

This last statement has a formal air; and Safiye begins to rise from her divan.

About this time, the guard that was lurking off somewhere and probably trying to talk up a dancer approaches. "My Lady, if we do not start back now, you will be late for dinner with your sister," he reminds Antoinette quietly. She nods at Safiye and grins and says, "I did not know about the obelisks, makes me terribly curious. Thank you for having me and I will no doubt be back again soon," she says softly. "Bonne nuit," she adds quietly, the extra coin left in her seat so that the tip may be hopefully not noticed until she has long gone.

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