(1311-11-11) A Lie of Innocence
Summary: Adeline meets with Alienor, and their worldviews collide.
RL Date: 2019-11-11
Related: None
adeline alienor 

Solar: La Rose Sauvage

Compared to the darker, heavy interior of downstairs, the solar feels like a pleasant contrast, where the use of light pastel tones and white provide a light air that is almost convincing. Floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city are guarded by curtains in light shades of pastel greens and blues. A few thick carpets cover the polished oak floor, where a few high backed armchairs are arranged about a kneeling cushion in the center. Beverages offered here will usually be white sparkling wines, to lighten the mood and keep up a certain innocent air. The tapestries on the white walls are kept to lighter hues as well, picturesque depictions of alyssum flower arrangements along with those of modest maidens in innocent situations, while the darker side to Alyssum canon reveals itself only to the attentive eye, in the details of the woodwork in dark mahogany side tables and the seats, depicting a pair of man and woman caught in obvious amorous entanglement, she faintly resisting and averting her gaze.

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

It is a cool and fair morning, but the Solar is warm because the sun streams in through the expansive windows. Seated on a cushion not far from one of the windows, all dressed in white, Alienor has a sketchbook in her lap and is making a fairly detailed drawing of the view of the garden she can see through the window. Her veil has been folded atop her head the better to see her work, but her back is to the door so that her face is not revealed.

Adeline really doesn't belong here.

This place is peaceful and serene. She is the scent of steel: harsh and sharp. Although she may have left any weapons she brought here downstairs, she remains ensconced in a suit of armor under that blue robe of hers. The angry red scar on her face and turn of her lips are enough of a shield to deter even the most intrepid courtesan to try to give her a compliment or stand in her way. Not that she marched in, mind, but she doesn't seem like the kind of woman that goes anywhere without a plan.

Here, she is at her quest's end, apparently unsuccessful.

She lets out a sigh of frustration. It is low and grumpy, but naught but a huff out of her noise. Her eyes narrow a little in defeat, as if she were thinking of where she may have gone wrong. A poorly-choice time? Is this the right — ? Never mind. She shakes her head, and sets upon another path: one that leads her towards the young woman by the window.

"Excuse me?" asks the Blue Lady with a neutral tone.

<FS3> Alienor rolls Politics: Great Success. (7 5 4 8 7 8 6)

The sketchbook is set aside; the pencils wrapped in cloth so that they will not smudge the paper nor anything else; then Alienor is on her feet in a whirl which somehow manages to get her veil in the right place: demurely concealing her pretty face, though not enough that she is unexpressive. She smiles at the woman, looking her over thoughtfully, trying to decide if she knows her by reputation, at the very least. This is, after all, the sort of thing that Novices of the Rose Sauvage are expected to know.

"My lady," Alienor says as she drops into a deep curtsey. "Vicomtess de Cerdagne, welcome to the Solar of the White Roses. How may I aid you today?" She is polite and charming and demure, keeping her pretty gaze downcast in recognition of the woman's station.

The Vicomtesse has a certain unforgettable look to her, that's for sure.

"I was looking for one of your Salon." Her brows knit for a moment. "To follow-up on an engagement we had." Ah, yes. 'An engagement.' Humorous sort of euphemism? Yes. "But perhaps she is elsewhere for now. I should — " Beat. " — I should have made an appointment." Hindsight is a harsh mistress. "And not come here like some charger." Adeline's face twists into a grimance.

"I apologize for the disruption.

She eyes the young woman for a few more moments, her lips pulling to one side as she considers the thoughts in her head. "You must be one of the White Roses." There's a note of disapproval? A little one. "I cannot say that I completely understand such philosophy but — " Shrug. " — I can understand why others would find your beliefs appealing." And, from the hesitation before the last word, the source of the disapproval is evident.

The cause is not so evident.

"Oh, if I may entertain my lady with a cup of tea made to her pleasure, I would surely be glad to do so," Alienor offers with a brilliant smile, and it's clear from her inflection that she'll have whiskey poured into a teacup if that's the Vicomtesse's pleasure. "And I shall be happy to pass a note to whomever it was that you sought for a follow-up. I have pen and ink at hand, after all. But you are a very welcome disruption. We do love guests," she adds reassuringly.

"I am Alienor, a Novice of the White Rose. My debut is in but a week, and perhaps my lady might like to attend. There is something novel about being a White Rose and having the opportunity to experience anew on a regular basis. It is a mindset that sets aside the ghosts of the past to focus on the present moment, so that one can be innocent of prejudices and more fully enjoy the pleasure of now."

Adeline lifts an eyebrow.

"Is it now?" There is a pause. "Before I respond to your offer of service, perhaps you can tell me more of your beliefs and upcoming debut." The white-haired woman pulls off one glove, and then the other. "I am trying to learn more of Marsilikos' Salons so that I can be conversant in them. I understand that the connection between the Night Court and the Duchess' is close." As it probably should be. "And I do so hate ignorance, most of all my own."

She finds herself a place to sit.

Alienor waits upon the lady to sit in one of the more comfortable chairs, then kneels on one of the cushions nearby and rocks back to sit on her feet, her white dress a giant pouf around her. It is a very modest dress, with a high scooped jewel collar, a trim but gathered waist, and a very full skirt to entirely obscure her lower body. The sleeves are long and bell-like, and when her arms are down, they largely conceal her hands. In her hair is pinned a white rose, bright against her dark locks, all of it shaded by the white of her veil.

"Alyssum prize innocence. Yet some believe that one can only be innocent once, at one's debut, before that innocence is bought and taken," Alienor explains with a gentle smile. "An Alyssum would counter that to be innocent is instead to experience situations and stimuli with a new mind, without expectations of what will happen, without allowing the knowledge of the past to inform the new situation."

"Naamah gave herself to King Persis, blushing and shivering, laying aside her modesty for the sake of those she loved. The White Rose prizes that sense of utter vulnerability in the face of the unknown. One goes from being protected by clothing to undone, nude before one's patron, and all is revealed and nothing protected. Nothing between the world and one's body. Allowing the prying gaze of those who would see. Allowing the loss of personal space from those who would touch. Allowing penetration from those who would have," the Novice offers quietly but with confidence.

Adeline looks down for a moment, her brows levelling.

"I apologize, mademoiselle, if I find such philosophy unacceptably fatalistic." Beat. "Still, I suppose tht it is an curious thing to think on, and how that would be an attractive mindset for someone." She lifts and drops a shoulder. "That I do not find it so is neither your problem nor a flaw in such beliefs. It is simply a product of my own experience, in which such innocence would be a death sentence and liability."

She sets her gauntlets in her lap.

"You are just a novice. That means, I think, that you have — " She lifts an eyebrow. " — little experience? — maybe a little — regarding those who would take you as a lover." Beat. "Have you received much interest? Can you tell me what you believe what attracts them to you? If you have formed a belief."

She does sound, at least, curious.

"Presently, madam, I am pure, though I admit that I am counting the days until my debut with excitement and apprehension," Alienor replies with a slightly nervous little smile. "I have friends, though, and potential patrons who have expressed an interest. I believe what attracts them to me is that I am friendly, gregarious, kind, and charming. There is, of course, the appeal of being the first, I know. Beyond that, there is a power dichotomy. I will always play the part of the one who is less experienced, less aware, less worldly. I am prey, but I am not eager to be prey."

The Novice looks thoughtful for a moment, as if considering what she ought to say next, and she frowns a little. "You, of course, should live by your experience. I may live in this fantasy world because I am protected and coddled, but you have no such luxury in reality. You might, however, choose to visit to indulge in the fantasy that everything is innocent and kind, that the hardest decision you might have to make is which of the scones I serve you to eat first. Do you prefer lemon or blueberry or cinnamon?"

The Blue Lady thinks on that question for a moment.

"Cinnamon," she says in a way that suggests there's a meaning behind the choice. "Admittedly, there is part of what you say that draws upon my curiosity." Beat. "That is, your innocent eyes present you with the opportunity to see things differently, and to glean the wisdom that others may overlook in their prejudice." Beat. "And yet, after so learning, the next time you are presented with the same situation, it sounds like your beliefs force you to forget what you've come to learn, so as to again seek that which others may not."

"Do I have that right?"

Adeline is presently sitting on the edge of a dais, talking in a conversational way with Alienor. Her gauntlets are off, and resting on her thighs. The white-haired woman seems to be occupied with interrogating the young novice, although her tone suggests merely a fascination and interest that, with her directness, comes off as a tad aggressive.

"You may expect, then, that a White Rose learns nothing from the experience. In truth, the Alyssum tries to learn something *new* from the experience, for though we are masters of putting previous experiences aside, we do learn from them and internalize them and add them to our repertoire," Alienor explains with an almost coy little smile. "So that we may amass information, but continue to live the fantasy that everything is simple and beautiful and innocent. To better serve our patrons, we are taught much that we must put aside in the quest for the fantasy of innocence."

The girl smiles more warmly, taking a deep breath, completely focused on the Blue Lady. She spreads her hands and tilts her head to one side. "The Alyssum relies on suspension of disbelief and skill at subterfuge. This is not, at its heart, particularly innocent. But if one plans to play in the fantasy of innocence, inexperience, and beauty, they are necessary. And when life is difficult, ugly, and all too real, it can be quite relaxing to spend an afternoon or evening having a lovely fantasy of innocence."

Something in what Alienor says catches.

"If it is a subterfuge, then are you not simply deluding yourself?" As if that were something that didn't make sense to her. "I see why another might find it attractive to be and possess innocence, but — " Shrug. " — it is a lie." She half-smiles. "Surely, you see that it is a lie. And Naamah did not lie when she bore herself naked to the King; she simply was naked, was she not?" Her smile fades away.

"Why shy from the ugliness when it is real?"

Adeline looks down at her hands for a moment. They are gnarled and worn: too much so, perhaps, for a woman of her age. They look like they could strangle the life out of a man easily, or be used to break bone. "Tell me, mademoiselle, what do you see when you see me?" She gestures at the scar on her face — the one that cuts through her left brow and cheek like a red canyon. "Can you not tell the ugliness that I bear?" Not that the rest of her is ugly, of course.

She does seem fixated on that part of her.

"Some people want very much to be lied to," the White Rose novice replies with an almost wistful smile. "Some people want to live only in the fantasy. I am here to provide a fantasy, as are the other Servants of Naamah." She looks over Adeline almost sadly.

"What do I see, my lady?" Alienor replies thoughtfully. "I see a woman with stories. A woman with experiences. A woman who can teach much about the reality I have been protected and sheltered from. Reality has left harsh marks on you, my lady, but you have strength that is visible in your bearing. Given the opportunity, I would spend hours at your feet, listening to what you had to teach. Perhaps that might erode my innocent play, but it would be a worthy loss of innocence."

"And when we were done, I would go back to the gardens. I would go back to my paintings and my books. I would go back to having my most terrible concerns be fashion: which perfectly white conservative dress ought I wear today?" she adds. "But I would not forget. I might… happen to guess… that you like cinnamon scones best. Or that you enjoy having your hands massaged."

Adeline's is a flicker of a smile.

"I do like having my hands massaged." Beat. "Sometimes when it is cold, my joints will ache." Another beat. "It reminds me of the many stories I have from my time fighting the Skaldi, but — " Shrug. " — another time, perhaps. Maybe one where I am less curious with how your mind works, and more curious as to what you would want to do with me."

Her face becomes stern and serious again.

"I suppose part of my curiosity comes with concern. Perhaps I am jaded or ornery when it comes to the institutions we live in." Beat. "Perhaps I am too suspicious when I say that people who would have you would use you — use your innocence — to sate some unnatural predatory lust in them, as the King did with Naamah." Beat. "And that I would be remiss to simply let that happen."

"Without saying or doing something about it."

"Of course they would," Alienor replies with a measure of confidence, her words soft but certain. "There are many who would like to prey on my innocence, who want to believe strongly that I am a fragile little lamb who will cry as they use her. I will give my consent to the assignation, knowing what they want, and I shall cry for them. Perhaps my tears will be real the first time; I am still pure, as I have said, and have no experience with the practical things. Only theories."

Alienor looks down at her own hands a moment, then back up to Adeline thoughtfully. "Perhaps someday, you will allow me to massage your hands while you tell me stories. And I will happily submit to you as I provide you a comfortable and satisfying experience. If you desire to take my clothes off and lie against the warmth of my body in an innocent sort of way, that might be very pleasant. And if you desire to explore less innocent activities, that might, too, be very enjoyable," she says without a hint of seduction, just calm.

Adeline draws a breath in through her nose.

"The last time I cried — " That memory. " — it was the day my mother sent me away to war." Beat. "Sent, mind. I did not want to go. What young woman would? To be away from home, among rough men and women." For a moment, she smiles. "I thought I was so smart and wonderful. Why would she send me there? Did she not love me, I wondered?" And then, she laughs ruefully. "I was such a silly shit then."

There's a pause.

"I remember my first time being a clumsy, slightly drunk affair. Hardly the sort of thing that one writes love letters about." Beat. "But that did not make me any less stupid about the entire thing. We did it a couple of more times, and then — " She stops talking, mid-sentence, her mouth open for a moment too long. She gets her composure back with a breath, her smile disappearing. " — and then he took a spear to his chest. Fortunately, he did not live long, and I got to see him die."

She curls her fingers together, tendons snapping loudly.

"When your debut comes, I am sure that you will see the world differently the next night. Whether it is with the same eyes I see the world with — ?" She shrugs, and looks away for a moment. " — I can't imagine why anyone would want that. So I hope that it is with a tender, fond remembrance that you look back at your first time with laughter and joy."

She ends up just staring at Alienor with wide eyes.

"I wish very much that I were allowed to comfort you by touching you," Alienor says softly, glancing over her shoulder at a White Rose chaperone who gives her quite the serious look, making certain that she is on her best behavior representing the Salon. She looks back to Adeline, her green eyes wide and gentle. "But I thank you sincerely for your wish for me. I want it to be wonderful. I want it to be fun. I want it to be beautiful. So we shall see what happens."

The girl considers Adeline seriously, her gaze sweeping over her figure, taking it in and committing it to memory. "I am sorry about your lover. I am sorry about war. I am sorry about reality. I can only give you comfortable fantasies that step away from reality for a moment. I doubt that I will ever see the world through your eyes. Your experience is unique, just as mine is, and I desire greatly to be able to gather you to my breast, stroke your hair, and tell you that everything will be fine. However innocent and naive that statement may be."

"I'm not sorry for any of it."

Adeline remains poised. Her words may describe what pain may be in her, but she remains dignified about it. After all, the last time she cried was when she was sent to war. "He deserved better, but I had lived in a fantasy. His death ended that fantasy." Beat. "While I was away at the front, my father died. My brothers, all of them, also perished at the front. I only returned to Cerdagne when my mother was on her death-bed. And she told me to come here to restore our family's prominence."

"Every day here is a war for me, mademoiselle."

But she shrugs. "But it matters not. As my friend, the Vicomtesse de Gueret, would say, these things only temper the steel within us. The ordinary abuse and wrongs we suffer through only serve to remind us of what is most important. In this case, here and for me, what matters most is learning. And you have given me much to think on, as I hope I have given you."

There's a pause.

"Were I to purchase your debut, what then?" She raises her eyebrows. "Is it not part of an adept to enjoy what it is you do? Is it, then, the fantasy that you give others that you take pleasure in? Or is it in the experiences you gain, being that you approach each situation anew?" She gently rubs her fingertips along the skin of her neck, as if it were dry there.


"The debut shall be a tea party, and I shall be certain to bring you a cinnamon scone," Alienor replies with a sudden girlish smile. "Somehow, I think that if you did buy my debut, we would enjoy our time together very much. I would enjoy giving you a vacation from your war for a short period of time. And I would also enjoy learning new things with you. To experience the practical that I have learned so much theory about. I believe I would get much out of it. What would you want out of it? What would please you most?"

The novice folds her hands against her dress in her lap, entwining her fingers neatly. "You may not be sorry for the things that have hardened you into the woman that you are today, but I do recognize that they still hurt you today," she points out softly. "They also give you power to restore your family's prominence, I suspect."

Alienor's questions causes another pause.

"To be frank, I am uncertain." This is reflected in her slightly-confused tone. "On the one hand, a debut is meant to be a passionate affair. Yet I must profess that it is difficult for me to — " Beat. " — it is difficult for me to simply become passionate just by looking at someone, yes? Falling in love was so much easier before." She does not explain why. "Now there are simply so many questions and concerns. Part of me would be afraid to be such a disappointment."

This seems to amuse her a little.

"Could you imagine? Were I to win your debut, and simply fill it with quiet, polite conversation over tea and treats?" Her smile re-appears. "Imagine exactly how that would make the other nobles twitter and flutter about at my emptiness and frigidity. That a passionate moment for me would simply be over a hot beverage." She snorts, and then shakes her head.


"In the privacy of the White Rose chamber, you could be any sort of lover that you imagine," Alienor points out to Adeline with a little laugh, a bit amused at the idea herself. "Should I complain that you should have bought a Red Rose's debut instead? Should I suggest that I was terribly mortified by the sort of acts you pressed me to perform despite my protestations of innocence? All of these things are between you and me."

The girl blushes a little, like a good White Rose novice should. "You needn't fall in love to enjoy the attentions of someone else, after all," she murmurs.

"But I can hardly seduce you in public," she adds in a near whisper. "I am to wear my veil and not meet your gaze. I am to flirt chastely, if at all. My purity must not come into question, of course." She spares another glance at her frowning chaperone and sighs slightly.

"It isn't needed, but I do not like to waste time — mine or others'."

Adeline's curiosity seems to have tapered off a little. "To be blunt, spending such lots as is necessary to win a debut might be considered foolhardy." Shrug. "Especially within a single gender. There is no future to such a pairing from a family point of view." But it does not sound as if she cares for that point of view. "It would be an extraordinary decision to make. It therefore is something I must consider carefully."

And she is the careful sort, of course.

"Do you perchance know who else may be bidding for your debut?" She makes a vague gesture with a hand. "If it is a right acquired then it is a right that may be traded or assigned. Perhaps if there is a man or woman with whom you would rather have your debut then — " Shrug. " — let me know. It would be a more — I think a more political move or gesture, yes?"

"One which you may prefer?"

"My lady, if you won, I'd want it to be you," Alienor replies earnestly, her green eyes wide behind her veil, and she is a very pretty girl, as one might expect from a future courtesan. Her words come swiftly; she nearly blurts them out.

And then she drops her gaze, slightly embarrassed, staring for the moment at Adeline's shoes. She is silent as she makes to compose herself, and she shakes her head slightly. "I would be incredibly honored if you were to bid on my debut," she whispers. "I know it is a costly thing, and that you could, if you chose, just wait and contract me for an assignation. And, I so do hope that you will, should you decide not to bid on my debut."

There's a long pause, and finally, she admits, "Several noblemen have told me that they would like to bid on me, and while I would welcome an experience with any of them, I also do not know how serious they were."

Adeline wears boots, of course: with greaves.

"How can one be sure of how serious any nobleman or noblewoman may be about bidding?" Beat. "Coyness and deception are courtly ways, mademoiselle. They are devious tools far more dangerous than any sword or axe. One can heal from a weapon wound, eventually; not so for wounds of a social nature." In a low voice. "My mother made sure I remembered that lesson above all others. And frankly, from what I have seen, she was correct."

The Blue Lady lifts her chin.

"Tell me of your life before your training. Tell me of the dreams you've held and have." Her blue eyes seem to catch the light. "You know so much better than I of what people fantasize of. Have you given a thought to what you might want if you decide to leave the Salon in the future?" Being aware that some remain, even after their marque is fulfilled. "Of what you might wish to do or where to go?"

She remains curious.

"I am a middle child, born to a wealthy merchant and his wife. I was the sort of child who always got compliments and people swooning over my beauty, and so my parents decided I might be a good candidate to foster, to someday serve as a Servant of Naamah," Alienor replies, looking up at the Blue Lady once more. "It may also have been because I had several siblings, and was given to trouble, having been born with a bit of a mischievous streak. A brat, perhaps, but they never really spoiled me." A pause, and she shakes her head slightly. "I suppose no child ever thinks that they're spoiled, though."

The girl laughs. "For the future," she admits. "I have barely thought past next week. I am so excited about the debut, about beginning to work on my marque, that I've hardly given thought to what happens when I finish it. I suppose I shall hope to find deep companionship with a noble patron, once I have decided that my service is largely done."

"I admire how you stay optimistic despite a lack of direction."

Adeline seems to mean that sincerely. She draws a hand along her face thoughtfully and slowly. "The bidding for your debut is next week?" There's a pause. "I will make every effort to attend. If I cannot, I hope that you not hold that against me. What you've told me, though, is intriguing. I suppose you might even say I am fascinated to see how well you absorb the lessons and information you learn."

She looks down at her hands.

"I'll admit, you remind me a lot of someone else. Just the way you are, not how you look." For a moment, she bites down on her lower lip. Just a moment. "I know she's happy now. She married a nobleman that deserved her, and I think they traveled back to his province to start a family. But she was willful and a bit stubborn, and — " Shrug. " — I think she loved me very much." She leaves that thought there.

"Ask me something? I must depart soon."

"My lady, I have spent most of my life to this point doing exactly what I have been told, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Like any young adult, I dream of the freedom to have more agency over my life," Alienor replies with a wry smile, and she is very young. "I am willful and a bit stubborn, and I am also quite good at slipping out of trouble and bending the rules so that they do not break. My greatest wisdom is knowing that I am naive and foolish, and that I will make mistakes. But I do hope very much that I will be able to get to know you better."

"A question, a question. If you could change one thing about your past, my lady, what would it be? And — how do you think it would change you?" the girl wonders, her expression quite curious.

Such a serious question required serious contemplation.

It also requires a story. "When I was sent to the front, I — " Sigh. " — I swore off my family. I hated my parents, especially my mother, for sending me away. I hated that it made me cry. I swore that I would never return." Beat. "I was fourteen and impetuous. I slept with the first man who showed interest. I drank so that it wouldn't hurt. And I swore my allegiance to the soldiers I traveled with, who I healed and repaired and held when they died."

There's a pause.

"I spent twelve years there, mademoiselle. I only returned because I was the eldest child. My mother practically begged for me to return, and I refused the first three times." There is a hardness in her voice, to keep it from cracking. "So she called in a favor, and I was assigned away from the front. And I hated her for it, and told her when I saw her for the first time in a dozen years."

There's another pause.

"So, I wish that I had not let that hate fester in my heart, mademoiselle. It — " Beat. " — it makes me feel so indifferent at times about others." She gestures with her hand. "I see the noblemen and noblewomen talk about their dresses and fabrics, and it takes me everything I have to not scream at them at how pathetic they are. How I wish they would spend time on the front just to watch our brothers and sisters bleed the rocks red." Her voice trails off. She looks away.

"Maybe that's why she left me, I don't know."

Alienor listens to the answer with weighty silence, as if it matters greatly to her. Perhaps it does. She observes with wide eyes, absorbing the information raptly. "I am sure," she says after a thoughtful pause. "That it is difficult to see people be frivolous, be conspicuously superficial, when you have experienced such hardship and brutality. And now you cannot give in to superficiality because you know how cruel reality is. That is a difficult place to be." She reflects on Adeline's shoes once more, then nods, looking up.

"Thank you for sharing with me. I shall not forget. I shall simply store the information in my heart, and perhaps you shall be a little unburdened," the girl says softly.

"Thank you for listening."

Adeline pulls herself back to her feet. The armor she wears creaks a little in protest. There is a weariness about her now: it could be how the memories haunt her still. She does a good job holding it all in. She has to. She has a job to do here, after all. On her way up, she tucks her gauntlets under an arm. "I hope the rest of your day goes well," she states, the neutrality rushing back into her voice. As if there had been no intimate moment at all.

Adeline's eyes linger.

"As I said, I will do my best to be at your bidding. And if I am so fortunate to win your debut I will do all in my power to make it memorable." There is sincerity in her words, and honesty in her tone. No wonder she feels so out of place at court. "I may not be able to offer as much as others, mademoiselle, but — " Shrug. " — perhaps I can offer what others cannot." And then, she genuflects with a short, curt bow.

"Until we meet again."

Alienor rises to her feet as the noblewoman does, smiling gently at her, a little good-natured worry writ in her eyebrows. She curtsies deeply, respect in every gesture, and she echoes quietly, "Until we meet again."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License