(1311-11-12) Hostage Situation
Summary: Once again, the White Rose novice Alienor is just trying to get some alone time with her new favourite book, when circumstances conspire against her…
RL Date: 11/11/2019
Related: None.
emmanuelle alienor jehan-pascal 

Gardens — La Rose Sauvage

The gardens of La Rose Sauvage offer a different ambience and atmosphere than that of the more oppressive and richly ornate salon. Tall casement windows spill out onto a paved area which gives way to neatly arranged flowerbeds, where a predominance of roses pay homage to the canons encompassed by this salon. The paths are of a dark granite grey which have softened over the years by the encroachment of mosses and lichens, with smaller paths winding off through the beds. It's here along these secluded paths that arboreal areas and private nooks might be found, and where privacy is granted to those that seek it through flowering hedges and curtained awnings.

A fountain plays at the centre of the garden, the copper figures of two nude women, long since mellowed to a soft verdigris, spill water from shells into a pool at its base. The main pathway through the garden leads to a terracotta tiled courtyard that sits towards the farthest end, the walls here flanked by creeping ivy which cloak the walls in scarlet and orange during the autumn months. An oiled silk awning hangs over the courtyard to give shelter from both sun and rain, and oil lamps light the area when evening falls.


In breaking through the clouds of recent days the blindingly bright autumn sun has lured out into the garden of the Rose Sauvage certain strollers, and chatterers, and even readers, most of them at this nascent hour of the afternoon the salon’s own denizens rather than patrons come to call. But one figure taking decorous exercise along its paths is unfamiliar to most of the others, save by repute, because they’re just too young to know… Some, however, are destined to find out today — such as the White Rose novice Alienor, who has finally found a quiet and reasonably safe nook of the garden in which to sit with her book, when she is confronted by a lady whose very presence defies innocence, inasmuch as she is heavy with child.

The lady’s high-waisted gown of raw black silk is pleated exquisitely to accommodate and even to emphasise the ripeness of her shape, narrowing again below her eight-months child before its skirts attain a considerable rustling fullness about her ankles. That outer layer is caught up twice by buckled leather straps to reveal petticoats of violet and black embroidered with a garden of blooming mandrake flowers outlined in thread-of-gold. Over it she wears an open surcoat of darker violet velvet edged with a narrow border of dark golden cloth. Her soft black leather boots have flat soles, about an inch thick, and a finely-wrought golden buckle across each. Her gloves are of even finer black leather, well-fitted to her hands, each fastening inside her wrist not with a button or a pearl but a delicate golden key. The third such key, of the proverbial Shahrizai trio, is the pin piercing the folds of the black silk cravat tied to fill in the unbuttoned V-neckline of her gown. Her lineage is thus made plain enough even with her Shahrizai-blue eyes hidden, at present, by a pair of large smoked-glass spectacles she has just impatiently shoved higher up the bridge of her aristocratic beak. Her only other jewels are her earrings, a white-golden mandrake flower blossoming upon her right earlobe, and its mate higher on her right earlobe above a second piercing from which there dangles a sizeable marquise-cut amethyst suspended in a filigree cage of the same white gold.

Her mode of perambulation is of necessity a slow waddle. Nonetheless there’s a dignity in the straightness of her back and the carriage of her head; the threads of white twining through her elaborate arrangement of braided blue-black hair suggest, in tandem with certain lines about her broad mouth, that whatever her condition, she is not young. Her face is powdered parchment white, but that may be her natural hue. Her lips are painted blood-red and set in a neutral line, until she stops before Alienor and they part upon coolly drawled words.

“That’s my bench.”

Alienor's focus is broken by someone demanding her bench, and she looks up in surprise, her mouth slightly agape. In a rush, she scrambles to her feet, snapping her book closed in the process and, out of habit, hiding it promptly in one of her bell sleeves, for she is wearing a boring white dress with a jewel neckline that's gathered at the waist such that it is very girlishly flattering but not very sexy at all. It is very full, though, cut to hang just off the ground, but with enough fabric that her little white flats do not show.

"Pardon me, my lady," she says quickly, preferring to edge on the side of too much honorific than not enough. "By all means, please, enjoy the bench." She drops a curtsey then, and glances around for her chaperone, who is once again staring daggers at her, arms crossed.

The little rose’s jump is gratifying enough to a strolling sadist; Emmanuelle ignores the chaperone and rests a gloved hand upon her own broader-than-usual hip as she looks the girl up and down from behind her smoked-glass lenses. With a slight shift in the breeze the scent of her arrives, resinous and leathery, warmly masculine in counterpoint to her skirts, her maquillage, her jewels. Standing on the path with her booted feet boldly planted she’s blocking a retreat back to the salon proper — keeping her prey cornered in this bower still green despite the season. “What is your name, child?” her uisghe voice demands quietly.

"I am Alienor," replies the girl demurely, tilting her head slightly so that her veil conceals her face more opaquely, the better to inspect Emmanuelle's clothing and jewelry surreptitiously. "I am the White Rose novice who is to debut at the end of the week." She folds her hands against her dress in such a way so as to continue to hold on to the largely concealed book.

“Well, Alienor,” Emmanuelle drawls, awarding the name and its vowels a long, slow, velvety caress by her voice. “What are you reading?” And she extends her other black-gloved hand, imperiously, commanding the contents of this modestly-wrapped vessel for future desires as readily as she did the label upon it. The golden key inside her wrist glints.

Alienor looks remarkably nervous all of a sudden. "Oh, ah. It's just a treatise on …ah, human nature?" she replies, not making eye contact and keeping the spine of the book remarkably well hidden in her sleeve. "It's a classic. Perfect for young studious girls like me."

<FS3> Emmanuelle rolls Intimidation: Amazing Success. (6 6 8 1 7 3 8 5 5 6 4 3 2 2 8 5 1 4 8 7)

Innocence indeed. Emmanuelle is disposed to be patient, but not infinitely.

Her left hand remains steady in the air between them. Her right hand lifts to adjust her smoked-glass spectacles, shifting them lower now upon her nose. Unmistakable Shahrizai eyes appear above those lenses: cold and hard as blue diamonds, a pair of twin scalpels that seem to tear straight through the fig-leaf covering of a White Rose’s thinnest veil.

“Give me,” she states slowly, in tones nearly an octave lower and with less of an Eisandine lilt to soften the clipped accent of her many years on Mont Nuit, “the book.”

There's something about being an intimidated teenager that turns one in to an angry little ball of petulance and resentment. Alienor sets her jaw in a defiant line as she holds out the book impatiently, biting her lower lip. It's a small volume, well maintained and meticulously kept, and the girl is absolutely furious about having to hand it over.

With the book in hand Emmanuelle, whose gloved fingertips have lingered upon the arm of her spectacles, pushes them up again with a brisk gesture and glances down through her smoked lenses at the narrow, gilt-embossed red leather spine the girl was going to such obvious pains to keep to herself. “Les Règles du jeu,” she pronounces in an arid drawl. The recent edition, which has the benefit of a laudatory foreword written in the clean, simple, confident, sometimes lyrical prose of a certain erstwhile Dowayne of Mandrake House.

Her chin lifts, her eyes returning to Alienor’s scantily-veiled face from behind the spectacles which serve as her own cover. “And do you find it instructive, child? Has it taught you the principles of games you might like to play yourself, one day?”

"Yes, I have been educating myself on the subject matter quite completely, for there is considerable information and clearly comprehensible theory provided in that volume, my lady," the teenager replies somewhat sulkily, full of resentment and obnoxious youth, shifting her weight from foot to foot. Her expression suggests that Emmanuelle might as well be actively torturing her by holding on to her book. "If you are satisfied, my lady, may I have the book back?"

Oh, come come. Emmanuelle is hardly going to release her toy — either of her toys — so easily.

And the book itself serves so well to keep Alienor captive body and soul that she has no more need to block the path against her escape. She steps down from it toward the bench she claimed as her own, brushing past the girl too closely for courtesy, so that her dark skirts mingle with the Alyssum novice’s pure white before she lowers herself cautiously to the dark red velvet cushion which softens the bench’s austerities. Holding the book in her lap she opens it with fingers deft even in their leather gloves, looks for an inscription — there we are, scrawled boldly in violet ink so dark it’s easily mistaken for black: To my old friend So-and-So nó Rose Sauvage, from Emmanuelle Shahrizai nó Mandrake — and turns a few pages as if acquainting herself with the text for the first time.

“… And was it this book,” she speculates drily, glancing up at Alienor, “which taught you to sulk, and to boast of your learning, and to make demands of your superiors?”

Jehan-Pascal does, on occasion, know how to sulk, but, for the most part, he has left that sort of behavior behind. It's easy enough, after all, to put aside all matters which would make one tend to frown in favor of prompting from the front of the house a glass of juice, the sort and presentation whereof will leave little doubt in the inhabitants' minds for whom the drink has been requested. Quiet of mind and easy of gait, he keeps his eyes lowered, not as any exemplar of innocence or shyness, but simply as a precaution against tripping on anything in his path. Stepping closer, he looks up, smile spreading into something regularly beaming to note the upcoming novice (that's her, isn't it?) alongside Emmanuelle's bench. He lifts the hand not carrying the juice to waggle its fingers cheerfully to Alienor, but he doesn't interrupt Emmanuelle in her interrogation, only standing by, ready to provide the juice when she's ready for it.

"No," Alienor replies, her green eyes like flames, staring down Emmanuelle as politely as she can manage. There's a moment where she's clearly spinning up some sort of story, her nose wrinkling for a moment before she smiles a rather insincere smile and she takes a deep breath and she works on her composure. She drops a picturesque curtsey to Jehan-Pascal with a charming sweep of white skirts, and then she flutters her lashes at Emmanuelle. In a much lighter tone, she adds, "I'm sorry, my lady, I must have forgotten my manners. May I please have my book back so that I can allow you to enjoy the gardens?"

The slightest tilt of Emmanuelle’s face is all the acknowledgment she awards to Jehan-Pascal, at first. But that tilt angles her smoked-glass spectacles so that the lenses reflect his face.

She closes the book (one leather-gloved finger stays tucked between its pages to mark her place) and holds it against the swell of her belly, which at this stage of the proceedings is taking up all the rest of her lap. “Better,” she pronounces. The lift of her tone and the curve of her mouth suggest amused indulgence as well as (very) guarded approval. “That reluctance to surrender your treasures will serve you admirably when the time comes,” she observes, with a faint fastidious pursing of her painted lips, “but I don’t advise you to practice it upon me. I’ll have that juice,” and she looks away from Alienor to Jehan-Pascal, and her other hand reaches out to accept his offering of chilled pomegranate juice as red as wine.

Jehan-Pascal lends those lenses a goofy, lop-sided smile to reflect back to him in miniature. He hands over the juice when it's wanted, resplendent in utility and with a smile warming with an overflowing abundance of fondness. Then, of course, he goes and spoils it all: "Oh, what book's this?" he chimes into the conversation, as light and conversationally as Emmanuelle's contributions have been weighty with import. The fellow merely lacks a certain gravitas.

For a moment, it doesn't occur to Alienor what Emmanuelle is alluding to, and then her mouth opens slightly and she turns bright pink, even to the tips of her ears. She looks uncomfortable for a moment, taking some time to rearrange her dress so that it is as perfectly arranged as possible in its dull conservativeness. Yet she still has not recovered the book, so she takes a deep breath and observes the older woman closely, waiting to see if the consumption of the pomegranate juice soothes her to the point where she is willing to return the small tome. She does make a point to smile relatively calmly at Jehan-Pascal, but she holds her tongue with the expectation that Emmanuelle will answer.

Ah, Jehan-Pascal, always the first to try to turn the Court de Nuit into the Club de Book. Emmanuelle sips her juice and then, signaling her approval of its freshness and its temperature, as well as the polished silver goblet in which it was brought to her, drinks more deeply. She gives the goblet back to Jehan-Pascal to hold — as he accepts it, Alienor may glimpse upon the smallest finger of his left hand a marquise-cut amethyst held in the grip of twin white-golden mandrake blossoms — and with it the news that, “Our innocent is acquainting herself with Les Règles du jeu. She informs me that it is a classic treatise on human nature,” she explains to him in a purr, “and that it has provided her with considerable information, as well as a clear and comprehensible explication of certain theories.” Her dark eyebrows quirk above her smoked-glass lenses. “Who would have thought it,” she drawls.

Jehan-Pascal stands at the ready, her regular Ganymede, as it were, attentive and fawning, taking the goblet back into both hands, holding it up close to the rim, the less to warm the fluid with his hands— or chill his hands with the portions of the cup which the chilled juice is still touching. "Aww," he coos sweetly at the news of the novice's reading choice, not to mention her exaltation of its contents. "Is that the edition with your foreword?" he goes on to ask. trailing the inside of his white gold ring against the silver of the goblet in an idle, well-pleased toying.

Although she had assumed that the two were a couple of some sort, the younger lord presumably the father of the older woman's unborn child, the matching jewelry largely confirms it for Alienor. Though she'd probably enjoy it entirely if Court de Nuit had a Club de Book, it's true. She lingers, not wanting to leave the book in Emmanuelle's hands, and then Jehan-Pascal reveals exactly how familiar the couple is with that book, and she turns white. Her eyes widen and she shakes her head incredulously, and she looks absolutely panicked.

That flimsy veil does nothing to conceal Alienor’s consternation; and the predator seated upon the bench before her smiles coolly upward, as if considering the possibility of feeding her stricken prey to her young. “Yes,” Emmanuelle answers, “and it is a copy I inscribed to an old friend who was one of my novices when I served as Second here. She must have left it to the salon when she retired. I must concede she had little to learn from it.”

Unconcernedly, she shrugs and extracts her finger from between the book’s delicate pages; she sets it down on the bench next to herself, though with her gloved hand still resting idly upon it. “Are you, then,” the former Mandrake Dowayne inquires of Alienor directly, “another pinkish rose—?”

"I am afraid, my lady, that I am not very good at yielding. It is theoretically quite interesting, and I am given to understand that there is great appeal in being a Red Rose or being treated like one by a Thorn. After all, our Thorns are very popular. Their patrons seem most eager to relinquish control to their capable hands and relaxing thus," Alienor explains a bit stiffly, almost sulkily, as if Emmanuelle has inspired a petulant mood in the teenager. "There is too much fight in me to be a Red Rose, I fear, which may make being a White Rose more difficult, but frankly, if a patron wishes a Red, they should have contracted one." She adds momentarily, "I am unfortunately extremely squeamish about the sight of blood and have been known to faint."

"Ohh," Jehan-Pascal is charmed, of course, by the artifact of Emman's friendship, left lingering in the salon like a ghost of bark and of alluring librarial scent. His attention lingers there even as Emman's own reverts to the Rose and the investigation of her particular hue. Though, of course, on the count of bloodshed, he can empathize entirely with her, and he lifts his eyes to offer her a supportive little smile.

Receiving these innocent but ill-tempered girlish confidences, Emmanuelle gestures also for her cupbearer— she takes another mouthful of her pomegranate juice, just to wet her throat, and restores it to Jehan-Pascal’s devoted grasp. “Come now, child,” she drawls, “you know that bloodshed is incidental. Perhaps Lord Baphinol will be so good as to tell you,” she raises an eyebrow at that gentleman, “how often he has bled for me.” But straight away she sails ahead, answering on his behalf. “Once, and the least pinprick.”

"Yes, I am assured that it is but an occasional thing, but still," Alienor replies with a little shake of her head, pursing her lips a bit as she clearly does not want to know what goes on between the couple if possible. The gentleman seems glad to let the lady speak for him, at any rate, and neither of them provides any further mortifying detail. "Does that make me a pinkish rose? I don't know. I do know that I enjoy the psychological aspects of the White Rose. I like the idea of cunning and subterfuge, but also sweetness and gentle graces."

“The delicacy of the prey,” drawls Emmanuelle, “and the difficulty of the chase, are two of the qualities which may lend lustre to victory and victor alike. Any patron of real acumen and understanding prefers an intelligent and discerning submissive who abhors the shedding of blood, over a foolish warm body offered up to be brutalised.” She awards her patient cupbearer a crooked red smile, which extends to Alienor for a breath or so before it fades. “You may find your petals blushing pink in time if you continue to let yourself be seduced,” and she picks up the book and holds it in front of her enormous belly as if she’s contemplating passing it across to its most recent custodian, “by such ideas as you find between these covers. But with your debut so close I recommend you concern yourself with even deeper fundamentals,” and here comes the sting. “Your manners, child, are appalling,” she says frankly.

Was Emmanuelle trying to get the teenager to roll her eyes? Alienor does it as instinctively as any sixteen year old might when confronted on the subject of being utterly disgraceful by a parental-type figure. She pouts slightly, then takes a deep breath and nods to the expert in this matter. "Yes, my lady," she replies as politely and as simply as possible, trying to keep all of the petulance out of her voice for once. "I shall endeavor to work on that. If you have advice for me, I will gladly listen to it." This latter is a polite lie: she will resentfully listen to it.

<FS3> Emmanuelle rolls Empathy: Amazing Success. (1 6 3 7 8 2 1 8 1 1 8 7 7 7 4)

The former Dowayne lowers her smoked-glass spectacles, to pierce Alienor once more with those blue diamonds that seem to come from the deepest of Kusheline mines. Then as she pushes them higher again upon her nose she chuckles richly, huskily. “No, you won’t,” she prophesies mildly, “you’ll seethe at every fucking word I say and you’ll walk away from here at least half-determined to do the exact opposite, at whatever cost. And so I shall give you nothing more to rail against, my dear Alienor,” not even a touch of sarcasm there, only fond — one might almost say, maternal — concern, “lest I complicate the task of your preceptors in the salon, whom I know for a fact wish only the best for you and your future.”

She pauses. “The cardinal virtue of any servant of Naamah,” she goes on quietly, with no tease left in her voice, “is the willing heart with which she places her patron’s desires above her own. That sacred duty is universal among us — it is so even for Thorns, no matter the poses they sometimes assume.” An arid smile. “When your service truly begins you’ll find there are many things you must learn to accept with an inner grace, even if you must feign an outer reluctance. So too you must employ an outer grace to conceal an inner reluctance — better than you have done with me,” and this is matter-of-factly frank again, but absent rancour. “You speak of your interest in cunning and in subterfuge. That is entirely wise of you; the canon of the Alyssum might more truly be named deceit,” she opines, “than innocence. Your manners, the etiquette of the Night Court, the forms and courtesies in which I know you’ve been drilled even if you don’t always choose to employ them, are a kind of scaffolding that supports such deceit. The correct forms, the correct gestures, the right word spoken in the right place, form the building-blocks of a façade of sheltered, gently-reared innocence that will allow you to conceal yourself, and your true feelings, in plain view. Good manners are valuable not only for making you a more pleasant companion, but for sustaining your calling over time. You must not rely only upon your veil as a shield for your thoughts,” she advises gently. “The time will come to remove it, and then where will you find yourself—? When some,” she smiles, extending the captive book to offer it back to Alienor in truth, “see straight through it already.”

Alienor deflates. She gives Emmanuelle a look that suggests that she knows damn well that the former Dowayne speaks the truth, a look of resignation. She takes a step closer to take the book back, very gently, and when she has it, she clutches it to her chest tightly. "Thank you," she says softly, actually seeming quite a bit repentant now and perhaps a little guilty about her bad behavior. "I am sorry that I have been rude to you. I have only embarrassed myself." Are there tears in her eyes? Possibly. She's not making a show of crying.

“I accept your apology,” Emmanuelle states, with the formal kindness of a superior gazing down from empyrean realms. “And I am glad that you feel so passionately for the book,” she adds in a more conversational vein; “when I first came upon it in a library in Kusheth I was surprised it wasn’t in more common usage… I wish you many more such sound introductions, Alienor. Up,” and this last curt syllable is directed to her cupbearer, who has all this while stood mute with adoration, hanging upon her words as if they were a string of pearls and he aiming to be its fortunate clasp. Possibly eyebeams were involved. She offers him her hand and with the aid of a good solid pull from his direction she heaves her imperfectly balanced form back up onto her wide-planted feet. Her other hand curls about her belly, smoothing dark silken pleats.

"Yes, my lady," Alienor replies to Emmanuelle, offering her an awkward curtsey, considering that she is still clutching her book to her chest. She waits for the pregnant woman and her companion to continue on their way, and then she bolts for the salon.

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