(1311-11-19) The Flight From Memory
Summary: Oriane meets a Gentian courtesan newly arrived in Marsilikos, who might have been her daughter-in-law — but for the deaths of the men they both loved.
RL Date: 11/19/2019
Related: None.
oriane soleil 

Le Coquelicot — Night Court

Tiles of fine beige colored marble cover the floor in an ever repetitive pattern that is only broken by the circle of inlay work in its center, where through the use of white marble and dark red obsidian a likeness of the poppy flower comes to life, informing the visitor which salon it is he has entered. Long white drapes embroidered with a line of similar earthy dark red to the obsidian used in the floor are arranged to frame the windows, through which the parlour will be generously lighted through the day. Scattered about the room are comfortable chairs, light rattan fletching topped off with comfortable, cream-colored cushions, beside small tables where long slender flagons of wine stand at the ready beside goblets made of clay, glazed in warm earthy tones.

The air is that of relaxation, on more levels than just the physical; this extends to the mind, the soul, and the heart as well. An effect that is enhanced by the soothing melodies played by a lutist in a corner, by the pleasant subtle scents emanating from clay bowls filled with aromatic oils sitting on the tables; the warm lighting of oil lamps through glass shades painted with soothing patterns of waves in orange and dark red. Enhanced further by the soft laughter rippling through these halls where the visitor for once is allowed to take a break from his everyday trials and tribulations, from fears and worries, from tenseness in muscles and sometimes just loneliness.

Archways in old Tiberian style lead onwards to three areas, where patrons can find soothing in the way they wish to. Whereas a stairway at the back curves all the way up to the upper floor, where private quarters of courtesans and adepts can be found.

The day is the sort of cool and stormy autumnal affair that encourages prudent elderly ladies remain by their firesides — not so Oriane Somerville, who arrives at Le Coquelicot by hired carriage somewhat in advance of the hour of her appointment, and retains her waterproofed black cloak long enough to enjoy a brisk, rain-fragrant stroll in the gardens.

Coming again into the salon proper she lowers the hood of her cloak, revealing white hair simply dressed and a pale complexion aglow with exertion rather than mere rouge.

A novice who knows her tastes well hurries to her, soft-footed, with a goblet of mulled wine to warm her in lieu of her cloak, of which he divests her before she can drip over any more of the floor. Beneath it she’s clad in simple, beautifully-cut garments of black silk, her skirts full and her bodice’s distinctly plunging neckline rendered modest by a fichu of fine and gauzy white silk, held in place by a ferociously glittering diamond brooch in the shape of a crescent moon. It seems to be her only ornament, apart from the smile with which she accepts the novice’s attentions. True d’Angeline beauty has a way of lighting up a room, always.

Her usual chair is occupied, she discovers as she crosses the parlour toward the cheerfully flickering fire, by a small marmalade cat. She stops a couple of paces away and looks down, meeting the interloper’s eyes. “You’re right, it’s very comfortable,” she agrees.

The ginger kitten, who is rather young and small to be taking up as much space as he is presently, lifts his head and mews curiously at the older woman, putting out one little cream colored paw in her direction but not at all making any effort to vacate what he has decided is his spot. He is Le Chat, after all.

Soleil, radiant in gold and warm like a ray of sunshine, glides into the parlor towards the woman, the back of her dress quite open to display her marque despite the cold. "Ah, my lady," she says with a curtsey, then slips over to see what the problem is. "Oh, you are a bold one, Le Chat Roux! Come now. Give the lady her seat."

But the kitten just lies there, comfortably being a kitten.

Taking off one of her fur-lined black gloves, Oriane looks toward the sound of Soleil’s unmistakable Mont Nuit vowels and smiles, as one must when confronted with such a glowing young beauty. “It’s all right, mademoiselle,” she assures her, in her own elegant and educated Eluan accent, “I don’t mind sharing with anyone so handsome.” Turning back to the miniature king upon his throne she offers her own cream-coloured paw, the right one, whilst holding her other glove in her left. Her silver signet ring is still turned in toward her palm, obscuring its device. Her hand moves slowly nearer over the seat of the chair, offering her scent for the kitten to breathe in, before she dares to touch his paw with a single manicured fingertip. “How do you do?” she says then, softly, still to the cat. “My name is Oriane Somerville.”

The kitten pulls his little paw out from under the noblewoman's hand and puts it gently atop, still velveted, tilting his little orange head as he does so. He is curious and engaged, and he might respond, should cats speak.

Alas, cats cannot speak, and thus his mistress is forced to answer for him. "Allow me to introduce Lord Percival, Le Chat Roux," she offers formally, as if the kitten is as important a personage as his tiny feline mind thinks he is. "And I am his faithful maidservant, Soleil L'Envers nó Coquelicot, formerly of Gentian House."

<FS3> Oriane rolls Politics: Success. (6 2 6 5 7 6 3 1 3 4 1 1 2 1)
Oriane spends 1 luck points on Knowing everybody and everything.
<FS3> Oriane rolls Politics: Great Success. (6 6 1 3 1 1 8 7 1 1 4 1 7 7)

When Soleil completes the introductions Oriane lets out an unexpectedly deep breath. Her hand escapes the kitten’s paw — but only to curl upwards and offer beneath his tiny chin the experienced scritches of her well-maintained fingernails. “Yes… yes, of course,” she murmurs then, looking up from Lord Percival to bestow a gentle smile upon his maid. “How do you do, mademoiselle?” The rhetorical question, followed by the real one. “And how is your grandmother, the baronne—? I was so sorry to hear she was in ill health.”

"Baronne de Vézelay, my lady, and she's actually come to Marsilikos to see if the mild weather improves her aches and pains. Perhaps when she gets a bit more settled you might call on her at the L’Envers residence — which is thus far unsatisfactorily laid out insofar as the furniture is concerned and everything must be rearranged again," Soleil replies with a charmed and gentle smile, clearly amused by and fond of her grandmother.

"She would do well with company; I stop by with Le Chat every day or every other day to check on her, often to lunch with her, and she regales me with tales of what foolish thing the movers have done this time. Surely they should know that the secretary goes upon the other wall! And other such things," she explains. The kitten takes this opportunity to purr and rub himself all over Oriane's hand in a very friendly and amicable sort of way.

“Ah!” is Oriane’s gentle exclamation of interest, upon receiving the news of the baronne’s removal to the same southerly climes that attracted she herself. She has already worked out what Soleil is doing here — what any lady of a sensitive disposition would be doing here. “The Eisandine weather is very favourable,” she agrees sympathetically; “I have seldom seen flowers grow so profusely in the spring, or linger so long into the autumn.”

She solves the question of seating by scooping up Le Chat Roux with a practiced hand, and taking his place only to deposit him in the warmth of her lap. Ginger hairs on black silk don’t seem to reckon into her calculations in any measurable manner. With one bare hand and one still gloved she consoles him ably for her lèse-majesté. “I’ve found the effect to be similar upon elderly ladies,” she confides to Soleil, looking up at the young courtesan with a wry smile, “at least once one’s furniture is in order. If you think the baronne would like me to call I would be glad to, soon, to see if there is any way in which I might help her to settle in.”

"The rest of the family, I admit, would be thrilled if someone could convince her that the furniture is reasonably arranged at this point, but my rooms are here, and if she wishes to stick another chaise lounge in a room with four of them already, I shall not be the one to object," Soleil says with a charmed laugh, watching as the kitten has his dignity momentarily disturbed. He looks utterly put out for a moment, and then he rolls onto his back so that his belly can be rubbed and promptly falls asleep in an improbable position.

The fingertips of Oriane’s bare hand sink luxuriously into soft ginger fur, soothing its owner to his rest; with her gloved hand she picks up her neglected goblet of mulled wine and sips it again, nodding to Soleil. “I do feel,” she offers in sympathy, “that there is a natural limit, when it comes to chaises. But if it pleases her and it does no harm—” She shrugs; after another sip she sets down her wine. “And how are you, my dear?” she asks the Gentian then, more gently still. “The autumn has been rather wet so far, but are you enjoying your new home?”

"I miss the sun, I admit, but the temperature here has been quite mild," Soleil replies quietly, looking thoughtful for a moment, and then casting her gaze to the ridiculously positioned kitten in Oriane's lap. "It is different here, not laden with memories. I am sure that I shall have quite a few patrons soon, as word travels that I am here." She adjusts her gold gown a bit self-consciously, frowning for but the briefest of moments. "Le Chat takes up a remarkable amount of space in the bed for someone his size."

Oriane nods. “I have two of them myself,” she agrees. “Of course I speak of cats, not patrons,” she clarifies with another wry curve of a smile. “I’m sure you’ll soon be making sweet new memories here, mademoiselle,” she encourages softly, “and I hope in the company of patrons who won’t offend your little lord by sneezing in the night.”

Soleil laughs musically at that, looking quite fondly at the kitten, who is quite brightly colored in the firelight. Being a young animal and a cat, his ability to sleep at absurd angles is less notable but no less amusing. "The duc gave him to me as a farewell gift. He wanted to be sure I had someone who would love me completely in Marsilikos, so far away from my friends," she admits after a moment, pressing her hand to her breast as if to protect her heart.

“Émilien was always a very sweet boy,” murmurs the young duc de Toluard’s erstwhile stepmother, her pleasant alto voice pitched low— perhaps to guard against disturbing Le Chat’s slumber, or perhaps to be sure that no one in the parlour hears her but Soleil. She says nothing of the rupture, of course, or of how much less than sweet he has been to her of late under his true mother’s guidance. Her eyes lift again from the kitten in her lap to Soleil’s face. “Love may not always accompany us wherever we go,” she suggests, “but I think we often find it already waiting when we arrive. Perhaps it will be so for you, mademoiselle. And in the meanwhile,” she slips both her hands cautiously underneath the kitten, and lifts him to offer him back into his proper companion’s custody, “you certainly have a charming friend here.”

Soleil takes him as gently as one might take a baby, and he wakes up and flails immediately until he is perched upon her breast, making her dress all the more modest by lying like a little fur shawl across her cleavage. "Ah, be careful with the claws, Le Chat! No one will appreciate it if you claw me, least of all me," she warns the kitten, holding one hand there to balance him. She looks to the older woman and smiles indulgently, if a bit sadly. "I am sorry that things are quite difficult for you right now. I do hope that they improve, that things can be resolved."

Oriane’s azure-eyed gaze grows a tad more reserved as, absent the kitten, she finds the elephant in the room settling upon her lap instead. “Family matters can be difficult, of course,” she agrees softly. “I wonder sometimes whether we’ll see a resolution in my lifetime,” she admits, “or whether I shall leave an unenviable legacy after all… But that will be as the Companions will it, mademoiselle, and I think we ought not to trouble ourselves with such matters within the walls of Le Coquelicot, no—? I’m waiting for a massage,” she explains; “I was early and now I think the young man is late. I must thank you, both of you,” she nods gravely to the ginger shawl draped across Soleil’s bosom, “for keeping me company.”

"Ah, but of course. Let me go check on the young man for you, my lady," Soleil offers with a gentle smile, dropping a polite curtsey. "It was a pleasure speaking with you, of course, and I wish you the Companions' grace and peace." And then she slips away, presumably to fuss at a courtesan who is late keeping his appointment, her Gentian marque beautifully displayed on her back, framed by her gold gown.

Oriane murmurs her thanks for this consideration, and watches Soleil go with a gaze that grows more pensive the longer she feels herself unobserved.

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