(1312-01-03) Body, Mind and Soul
Summary: …and how to soothe them become a topic between the courtesan Niobe and a visitor to the salon, Lady Justine. Warning: Some candidness in speech, referring to the act of reproduction.
RL Date: January 3rd - 8th, 2020
Related: None
niobe justine 

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.

Morning in the Court de Nuit is understandably quiet. The more raucous houses have pretty much bedded in until noon, leaving Le Coquelicot as the most inviting in the chilly winter haze this morning, not just because the lamps are lit to lend the hall a warm glow, but also because there is a faint aroma of soothing oils and at least one or two courtesans and novices relaxing on soft cushioned chairs.

Most d'Angeline visitors of the city sooner or later will find their way into the Night Court. At least this goes for a certain recent arrival from l'Agnace. When Justine is shown into the salon of Le Coquelicot, she leaves behind her retinue of guards and handmaid, and her warm winter cloak with the latter. Discarding the cloak will reveal an attire that speaks of the status of its bearer, of probably medium or lower high nobility, details in the yarns used in the ornamental embroidery upon the dress, the fabric, dark greens with some highlights of white strewn out in between. The woman wearing the dress looks young enough to be in her early twenties. Not younger, because there is a certain confidence but also subtle request in her bearing. The unspoken request to be granted respect she claims for her own, radiating through the probing looks of her grey-blue eyes, the faint flicker of insecurity perhaps hinting to the attentive eye, that such claim may not always have been granted in the recent past. Blonde hair is worn in a fashionable manner, twirled and piled into a courtly do.

Spotting the courtesans relaxing on the comfortable chairs, the young blonde lady approaches and inclines her head in greeting to them. "A good day to you, Mademoiselle, Monsieur? I… hope you forgive me for popping by without an appointment, nor with anything other than mere curiosity to excuse my intrusion… I just arrived in Marsilikos the day before yesterday, and… as I have wondered about the Night Court of this city…" The sentence trails off, unfinished, her gaze finding the warm glow of oil lamps, and her nose twitches, in noting the soothing scent. "This salon…? What is it called? What canon do you honor here…? Is it… Balm, perchance?" Pressing the palms of her hands together, before she rubs them thoughtfully before her, Justine lets her gaze drift to take in the interior of the room.

The elder of the courtesans unfolds herself elegantly from her seat, revealing the bright splash of red of the poppy etched on her back which matches perfectly the trim on her snug-fitting black dress. She rises to her feet in a single movement, offering both hands and a wide smile to the woman. "A very warm welcome to you, my lady," she responds with a little nod. "Both to our fine city, and to the serenity of Le Coquelicot."

Taking a moment to look their guest over, Niobe glances pointedly to the novice she'd been talking to, then to one of the pitchers on the table, which is enough to prompt the eager young man to pipe up with, "Can I offer you a drink, my lady?" For her part, Niobe gives him an approving nod, barely perceptible, and turns the full force of her attention back to Justine. "The salons here tend not to one canon, but a combination of two or three," she explains, "although some of us lean further one way than another. Le Coquelicot caters to Balm, as well as Gentian and Heliotrope, although my personal predilection is, as you've so rightly guessed, to soothing your ills on a physical level. Do you have aches and pains we can help with, perhaps?"

"Thank you.", this said both in reply to Niobe's warm welcome and the offer of the young novice, even if the blonde lady's gaze flicks just for a moment towards the lad, before her attention now returns to focus fully on Niobe. "How… curious," the woman dares to opine. "The… combination of canon, I mean. Even in Elua, the smaller salons there tend to pick one canon alone, as not to confuse their potential clientele." And in realizing her lapse in manners, she lowers her gaze, in the same moment her lips curl into an apologetic smile. "I forgot to introduce myself. I'm Justine Chalasse de la Courcel." Glossing over the 'Chalasse' through slightly slurred pronounciation, while lingering on the latter part of her name. "I do not have ills on a physical level. That is… maybe I have… That is still to be looked into. Umm…?" How curious, now, of her to bite her lip as she looks up to meet Niobe's gaze, her features tightening in a hint of something unpleasant touching her mind. "But… no, I don't have any pains or aches that could be alleviated. Not at the moment. Gentian…? And Heliotrope, you say, are the other canons that are catered to here?"

"Mmm, to soothe each of body, mind and soul," Niobe agrees after a moment, concern touching her face as she recognises that little bite of the lip. Still, she brightens her smile, shrugging one shoulder lazily and extending her arm towards the seating. "In Elua the custom is for the patrons to identify and separate their needs. In Marsilikos we take a more holistic view. Can the body ever be truly soothed if the mind is not settled? Can the mind be whole with a gap in your very soul? Everything is connected, no?"

She smoothes down her dress, waiting for her guest to seat herself before joining her, exceptionally long legs folding beneath her. "Niobe no Coquelicot," she offers, with a smile more friendly than pretty. It's clear from that smile alone that she's no Cereus, no delicate flower, and a closer look at the fabric clinging to her shoulders outlines a clear musculature which implies she does more than spend her days idly drinking tea or wine with her patrons. "What brings you to Marsilikos, my lady? The fresh air and wonderful seafood, or are you visiting family, or..?"

<FS3> Justine rolls Composure: Success. (3 3 3 6 8 3 1 2)

Justine settles herself in one of the comfortable chairs, all graceful, with her hands smoothing over the skirts to have them arranged in an elegant drape. "I see," she replies to the courtesan. "And I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mademoiselle Niobe. I do see there is reason in the combination, now that you explain it. The mind, the soul, the body provide the whole of what defines us." Even so, this lady's mind seems a little distracted, when she becomes aware that her instruction towards the novice had lacked clarification. "Some… tea, if you have? It is still too early in the day for wine, I would think." Attention returns to Niobe, and Justine leans back, with her palms placed on the armrests of her chair. "I may be in need of the services of a Balm," the young lady admits then, her gaze restlessly looking away again. "I hear they can soothe, and at least they could make me forget for a moment whatever unpleasantries may wait for me at home… But yes… you say it yourself… it is the climate I hear that can be a true marvel, especially for those of ill health…" It is to be noted however, that Justine herself does not look unwell, at least not at first glance. "I have come to Marsilikos a few weeks ahead of my husband who seeks audience with Her Grace, the duchesse of Eisande." Her smile tightens a little. "It is not uncommon, that the wife is sent ahead to see to it that the suite is prepared adequately for the arrival of the husband…"

The novice bobs his head and disappears off to find and presumably at some point return with tea. Meanwhile, Niobe takes advantage of the flame of one candle to lean forward and light another, waiting until the second wick glows into life, flickers once, then burns stronger and brighter. This she twists one way then the other to prevent any wax dripping as she sets it down and the warmth begins to add this candle's own soft scent to the mix. "You are always most welcome to take advantage of the salon, my lady," she insists amiably, "and my time is yours if I can possibly help. It must be daunting to come to a new city, but we can make sure you are well and truly settled before your husband joins you, no?"

The flame of the candle provides a most welcome point to turn focus to, and Justine gives in to that urge as her features shift into a more relaxed cast of a smile. "This is scented wax?", she inquires of Niobe about the candle. "I like the scent of it. And I daresay, I am quite tempted to follow your suggestion. I am not as much daunted by this city, as you may think. Why, I have spent much time at Troyes-le-Mont and also at Chateau Barthelme. Elua, too. Just very recently, as I travelled there for Longest Night." Her lips quirk into a smile, when the novice returns with a cup of tea. "I wonder… in the case I should return. Whom would you recommend, Mademoiselle? And… just like it is custom on Mont Nuit, I would assume that any secrets spilled from a patron's lips in these halls… I mean… courtesans here are bound to the rules of discretion, no?"

"A little cinnamon and honeysuckle in this one," Niobe agrees, cupping the candle with one hand and wafting the scent towards the pair of them with the other. "I'll make more like it, if you like, so you can take some home to relax when you're not here." A subtle insinuation that when not at home she ought to be here. "And of course confidentiality is key, my lady. Our guests lay open their minds, bodies and souls completely bare to us. Without that honesty we wouldn't be able to help, and without significant trust in our discretion, how could you be expected to expose every raw nerve you have?" She leans back, arms drifting up to rest along the back of her seat and her long legs crossing in front of her. "As for whom I'd recommend?" She gives a light laugh and a conspiratorial smile. "Well, I'm bound to say that I'd be well suited to you, but it's possible that I might not be exactly what you're looking for. Me, I'll spare you nothing, but I'll do everything possible to see you well. If you're happier with somebody sweeter and more gentle, then our second, Elspeth, might be more to your taste. If you'd rather focus on what troubles your mind, I can recommend none so highly as Soleil who, as her name implies, brings sunshine into even the darkest mood. Or, of course, any combination according to your needs of the moment."

"I would like that, Mademoiselle," Justine admits, watching that candle burn with a sudden wave of… weakness? Or just longing. "I do like the scent, as I already stated." Not a single word of contradiction, from her, when Niobe continues; just a faint downward tip of her chin, as if in agreement. "Maybe, yes." The young lady lifts the cup of tea, holding it before her as she considers Niobe for a long moment. "Maybe I need a combination of everything. Maybe I need just one aspect of those you have on offer here. Is it not odd, how one's own needs are sometimes a mystery?" She too crosses one leg over the other, in an elegant motion that is in no danger of marring the perfect fall of her skirts. "I was advised to seek out the Grand Temple of Eisheth. But I am not sure that I am in need of clerical advice alone…"

Niobe flicks a sympathetic smile, tilting her head a little. "It's often far easier to see the help that other people need than the help one needs for oneself, though, isn't it? Another point in favour of a salon with combined expertise, and of course this particular salon does work closely with Eisheth's temple. Healing and soothing are two sides of the same coin, after all. I could introduce you to some of the healers I work with in the infirmary if you have a specific complaint they can help with, and of course for religious guidance I wouldn't dream of trying to say I've any more than a passing knowledge and they are the experts in their field. Would you like, though, to spend the morning here so we can try to find what you need?"

A soft sigh leaves Justine Chalasse de la Courcel and she tilts her head slightly to the side. "I am not versed in seeing help others need, Mademoiselle. All my life, I have been prepared for others to do that very same thing. To know what I need, even before I am aware of it myself. Perhaps, right now, I may be in need for someone to talk to. Someone outside of my usual peerage. Someone unaffiliated with the inner circle that," her lips twitch into a faint mirthless smile, "surrounds my husband and his immediate family." Her shoulder moves in a careful roll. "I might feel a little tense. The voyage has been taxing. Perhaps… I am need of techniques of relaxation to be applied upon me." There has been a shift in tone, some of that haughtiness surrounding her earlier dissipating, as she addresses Niobe now at a slightly lowered volume, pausing to give her a long warm look of gratitude, before she turns her attention to the cup in her hand, to have a first sip of tea.

With a glance to the novice charged with tea duties and apparently stationery duties too, Niobe gives a small, subtle nod, which results in the young man disappearing for a minute, only to return with paper and writing implements. In the meantime, Niobe flexes the fingers of one hand, raising a brow in question before settling it on the other woman's shoulder, beginning to probe at the tension there. "I believe we can at least ease this today, and we can begin to look at the underlying causes. How do you sleep at night?" she queries, nodding brief thanks when the paper appears and, with her free hand, she begins scrawling the customary preamble to a contract, almost without thinking. The details are as yet left blank.

Things to be running their course as expected perhaps, and so the arrival of paperwork Niobe starts to deal with elicits little more than the lift of a brow from Justine. The touch of Niobe's hand however, probing the tension in her shoulder area makes a sound rise in the blonde lady's throat, a low grown in the making perhaps, would it not be bitten back in time, merely leaving the Chalasse lady as a muffled something. As groaning in the public area of a salon is neither fashionable nor adequate for a woman in her position. Another nod then, to the promise of alleviating tensions. And a murmured, "Thank you. I am fortunate to…" She clears her throat. "… To be blessed with long and deep phases of sleep at night. It is in the evenings though, that I often feel… exhausted, and fall instantly asleep once I lay down in my bed."

Niobe rests her hand where it is rather than risk poking and prodding any more at present, a solid, comforting warmth. "Let's just get these formalities out of the way, then, and see if we can ease some of this for you. I can offer a simple massage with oils, or more intimate techniques if you'd like," to which two seemingly random numbers are scrawled on a scrap of paper and tapped with the pen, "and then as you're new to Marsilikos do you have a banker's draft we can hold, or would you rather leave a token for security and return at a later date to deal with the details?" Businesslike it may be, but the sympathetic smile doesn't waver, and the shoulder gets a little squeeze.

"I have a purse with me," Justine replies, and her voice sounds soft and almost a bit dreamy. "A simple massage may be a good start." Shifting just so beneath the soothing warm touch of the courtesan's hand, but not seeking to evade it, she considers the options for a moment. "Perhaps more intimate techniques, as you suggest, after a while, should I feel comfortable with it," she adds. "I should have enough money on me at the moment to pay the fee for the salon. As for my patron gift… I am not sure. I may leave this here…" She reaches for the necklace she wears, silver chains holding a pendant of horse shape, studded with small diamonds. "A token, a promise, for me to return tomorrow with an adequate gift of appreciation for your services, Mademoiselle."

A few more strokes of the pen, then it and the barebones contract are slid along the table closer to Justine, and Niobe brings both hands up to the junction of neck and shoulder, still doing nothing more than identify any knots and tension there. "I only hope that we can do something for you, my lady," she notes with a wry smile as she waits for the necessary signature, adding aside to the novice, "Jean-Jacques, please bring through a pot of my morning blend in a moment, thank you." She rises smoothly to her feet, unfolding those impossibly long legs and offering her hand up to Justine.

Justine watches Niobe finalize the contract, and her blue-grey eyes watch the document being slid over to her, right into the area between her palms that rest on the table. The cup of tea has been discarded a while ago, deposited somewhere to the side where it is not in the way. The courtesan might feel the lady straightening just so beneath the touch of her hands. "I do hope so as well," comes the belated reply to Niobe's statement. "The tea already has been fine, and I feel a little more at ease." Another moment of delay occurs before Justine leans forward and takes the contract, to read its contents. Perhaps she had closed her eyes for just a moment. "This all looks fine to me." The pen is taken into her other hand, as the lady of Namarrese descent and perfect upbringing places a no less perfect signature below the written down ramifications of the contract, signing it with her full name, Justine Alexandra Chalasse de la Courcel. When Niobe encourages her to rise, Justine does so, skirts adjusting to the shift in her shape as she moves to stand with a grace that has been ingrained into her from her early youth. The offered hand had been taken and is held for a moment longer. "Again, I have to thank you for granting me your time and attention, Mademoiselle."

The contract, empty tea cup, pen and, as it happens, Niobe's scarf, are all left for the novice to clear away, while the courtesan leads her newest patron confidently through to a smaller, more private room, barely lit by the warm glow of oil lamps and redolent of a multitude of scents, from exotic spices to fresh florals, a hint of citrus, vanilla and musk. The brightest thing in the room is a tie between the crisp, fresh sheets on the bed and Niobe's smile as she leads the way in. "If you'd be so good as to remove as much as you're comfortable to, and settle face down on the bed," she suggests, taking a moment to busy herself with selecting and lighting a few choice candles, partly for ambience but more clearly to allow Justine the privacy she might need to carry out those instructions. "If you're hungry or thirsty or too warm or too cold, let me know."

Neither tea cup nor contract are of concern to Justine anymore, now that she is being led away. Just a quick, "Please notify my staff that I will take a moment longer," is the murmured request towards the novice, 'staff' in this case encompassing handmaid and guards left in the antechamber. The privacy the next room offers is acknowledged with a soft exhale, shoulders slumping down and forward as the lady takes in the variety of scents that blend into a soothing whole. Niobe's instructions reach Justine's consciousness belatedly and she obeys once the message has sunk in. As much as a lady of her station must be used to maids assisting when taking off clothes, Justine manages agreeably well, shedding the outer garment with only minimal delay. The dress will be placed over the back of a chair, shoes and stockings will be next to go, leaving her only in the hoses of her undergarments, as the chemise will be discarded next, as it will only hamper massage of the upper area of the back. Discarded garments will be placed all orderly upon the dress, while the shoes are set below the chair, side by side. With a soft sigh, Justine will lower herself onto the bed, face down, as instructed, or rather, face turned to the side.

Niobe takes her time to make her way over to the now prone Justine, oiling her hands with a new, sharper scent and rubbing them together to take off any lingering chill. She starts easy, simply running her palms smoothly up either side of the lady's now bare spine, rolling the muscles there gently to get her used to the touch to naked skin. Up and down, up and down, pressing just hard enough to feel that it's doing some good, but not yet hard enough to take the breath away. It doesn't do when the patron can't speak and you're trying to get information, after all. "You said," she mentions conversationally as she works, "that the evenings exhaust you..?"

The skin on her back is soft and of immaculate pallor, and the way Justine reacts suggests that this may not be the first massage the lady receives. Accepting the touch of Niobe's hands with a soft sigh of delight, she will hold still, trying to relax. Even so, Niobe will note some tension in the muscles, especially in the area around the shoulder blades and where the shoulders connect to the neck. "When did you join service?", Justine barely manages. "Have you been at this salon all your life, Mademoiselle…? As for my evenings… I'm not sure they exhaust me, but rather the days. Do I make sense?"

Paying a little more attention to the top of Justine's spine and her shoulders now, Niobe gives a little nod, unseen behind the woman. "I was born to the salon, my lady," she explains easily, thumbs just beginning to dig into some of the more stubborn areas. "My mother was a courtesan here until she retired. She taught me a lot of what I know. Tell me about yourself? Your days?"

"I see…" Eyelids flutter before they close for a moment. "My days… are pleasant enough. Last spring I married into the family of my husband, and it hasn't been overly stressful to prepare for my future duties. It is not as if I hadn't been prepared adequately. My parents saw to it that I would enter the marriage market as a lady of refinement, versed in the ways of the court. My days have not been as busy as I would have feared. I have accustomed myself to occupations such as riding out with my retainers, also… art and sketching in particular are my favorite pastimes…" Her tone becomes more and more relaxed, and one can hear the smile and her appreciation of the treatment easily from the sound of her voice.

"Breathe in for me?" Niobe requests conversationally. "Then out on three. One, two, three," with which she leans down with a sudden wrench, eliciting three or four sharp cracks in rapid succession from the woman’s back, just as quickly beginning to ease the muscles again with warm, slow circles of the heels of her hands. "Would you rather spend your time alone, my lady? Some people find that other people exhaust them, and others that they energise them. Art and sketching sound like rather solitary pastimes, but if that’s what you need to relax then perhaps we should find you a quiet space in our garden where you won’t be disturbed?"

<FS3> Justine rolls Composure: Failure. (2 1 3 1 4 5 5 5)

There is a shift in the blonde lady's back as she follows the request and draws a deep breath through her nose, eyes closing. And there a crack shows in Justine's composure, when the sudden shift of weight onto her back makes a startled high pitched sound slip from the lady's lips. The shock shifts into relief and a deep exhale expressing as much, when blocked joints are righted, and tense muscles persuaded to relax. "Ah… forgive me…", the woman laid out on the bed mutters, giving herself up to those skilled hands. It takes Justine another moment to reply to the questions offered by the courtesan.

"I wouldn't call riding out a solitary pastime, when I often ride out in company, or at least the inevitable horde of guards looking after my safety," the lady contradicts. "Nor is sketching an occupation practiced on my own, when I often enjoy sketching faces, and while I am at it, we have time to converse. It is just that… courtiers are bored by such activities, and I find that refreshing, now and then. To be spared from murmurs and rumors, and intrigues… It can be so tiresome." Says a young woman in her early twenties.

"What of you?" Justine lifts her head just so, trying to crane her neck so that she might include Niobe in her peripheral vision. "Mademoiselle. You have served at this salon. Do you have… did you ever have any children? Or is that an impertinent thing to ask? If so, you may refuse the answer, and I shan't be wroth at you."

Niobe gently but firmly presses the head back down again so Justine’s cheek rests against the sheets and the courtesan’s practiced thumbs can make quick work of easing the lateral muscles of her neck. "I never did," she admits, working her way up into the noblewoman’s hairline and scalp. "But then I famously have a lack of patience with the young ones, even our novices, so I can’t imagine that I’d be a good mother in any way. I think on the whole the salon is rather relieved that it should be that way. I have my birds and that’s enough for me. I’m fortunate to have that option, of course."

"I see." Justine does not resist the insistence of the Coquelicot and lays her cheek back onto the soft linen of the blanket. "I'm not sure I will be an adequate mother, but… it is required of me. To fulfill the commitment, between the Houses of my husband and that of my birth." Her train of thought is interrupted by a soft groan, into the pillow. "For any woman, the thought of motherhood holds a certain anxiety, I suppose… But in my case… the delay… each day, each week, each month… brings about questions and increases the pressure… Oh Elua, have mercy… Mademoiselle Niobe…" She smiles, the pitch rising a little in her voice when she inquires, almost parroting, "You have birds?"

"Two parrots, a budgerigar and a cockatoo," Niobe agrees, the amused smile evident in her voice, even as clever fingers ease their way around the woman’s scalp in a practiced, expert massage. "You’ve given your prayers to Eisheth, but have yet to bear fruit, as it were?" she clarifies. "You’ve lit the candle, but have not yet been blessed?"

"How very… Unique," Justine opines gently. "It never occurred to me that courtesans could have pets. But why not?" The topic of birds seems to be of peripheral interest to her, and how is she to focus, when Niobe’s fingers work on her so exquisitely? Another soft sigh of delight slips from the young woman, as she is made to feel such at ease that she hardly bothers the intimate nature of questions posed to her. They could be, after all, prompted by a healer’s curiosity.

"I have lit my candle to Eisheth, yes. In a ceremony that followed right after the wedding vows at Elua’s Temple. It is my one great purpose, I suppose. My husband expects me to bear him an heir."

"Mademoiselle Soleil has a cat," Niobe mentions as her fingers work in small circles to ease any tension. "We’re a veritable menagerie here these days." Perhaps it’s the small talk, or perhaps it’s the continued massage, but just as casually she enquires, "You’ll forgive me for asking, but it never hurts to get the blindingly obvious out of the way before delving deeper. You do sleep with your husband, or are more than casually intimate at least? And, although I understand that it can be quite marvellous in many ways and positions, in order to bear children he does use the front door, as it were, and remains there until completely finished?"

"I’ve encountered three Dahlias, when I was younger," Justine continues, words slipping easily now that her body begins to relax more and more. "Neither of them had an animal. Or at least they didn’t bring them along for the lessons…" Her voice maintains that dreamy soft quality it had taken on earlier. "You see… I was to be prepared. For the courtly games, at least. Of course, there were other topics I asked them about. Such as… the ways of how to get with child. So yes, I am very much aware, and my husband is, as well. So aware, in fact, that he usually goes straight for the finishing line. Using the proper door, of course." She sighs. "Staying there, probably not long enough. It is not that he takes that much pleasure in it, after all…"

Niobe runs her fingers through Justine’s hair one last time as she draws her hands back, adds a little more of the fresh scented oil, then settles them again towards the bottom of the woman’s shoulderblades. Once again she just moves in slow, easy circles, scouting out the territory for injury, tenderness or knots of tension and making a mental note where issues can be felt and how they respond to the warmth of her hands.

"You have my absolute and sincere sympathy," she offers simply and quietly, shaking her head as she works. "If you can’t take joy in Naamah’s worship, I can see it becoming a more and more difficult chore to enjoy. I shouldn’t wonder that Eisheth would rather see you happy before blessing you. Have you… breathe in again for me, and out on three? One, two, three…" Again a quick wrench to realign recalcitrant vertebrae, followed by a soothing stroke of strong, experienced hands. "Have you considered inviting one of our young men to join you, perhaps, that you might both enjoy?" she suggests, pursing her lips. "Somebody with the knowledge to pleasure both you and your husband while you try for a child? A little longer to show you both the joy of Naamah, without judgement or worry, to ease the tension within from trying to meet expectations? If a gentleman or a lady are so tense and cramped inside that they barely give themselves to pleasure, how can a baby be expected to form?"

Justine's eyes remain closed for now, and the expression on her features is that of relaxed delight. Niobe may not find any traces of injury in the area of the shoulderblades and below, the lady is young yet and not of Camaeline disposition. There are tense muscles though, and the Coquelicot courtesan has already managed to loosen them a little. This time, Justine knows what is coming and does not try to hamper Niobe’s efforts. Exhaling as told, she accepts the press of hands leaning onto her, and the soft crack of things shifting back in place may not be as dramatic as after the first time.

The suggestion though takes a moment for the young woman to consider, a faint wrinkle of eyebrows is indicating that Justine ponders how to reply. "My dear husband is a man who likes to maintain a clear separation between pleasure and duty. But yes, I do see your point. I shall suggest this to him when he arrives in Marsilikos."

"He’s an otherwise healthy man?" Niobe queries, shifting from using the heels of her hands to planting an elbow just beside the woman’s spine and leaning gradually until her full weight is resting there, holding, and then releasing to move up an inch and repeat the process. "And you both have a healthy diet, plenty of red meat, fish, vegetables, a little wine but not to excess?" she probes further. "For spiritual guidance you'll certainly want to talk to the priests, but we can make sure the physical is as conducive to conception as possible, at least."

Satisfied that she's eased the worst of the knots, Niobe flexes her fingers once then returns them to begin rubbing in wider motions across Justine’s back and shoulders, upwards and outwards, working lower every time. Back, buttocks, thighs and calves in turn get equal treatment, calm and efficient.

"And the matter of timing," she considers, lips pressing together again in thought. "Anecdotally, those who spend time with their partners a few weeks after they bleed tend to be most receptive of new life. Your bleeding is regular and robust?"

"Evariste is healthy, yes," Justine manages before Niobe leans onto her back with her full weight, a moment before which the blonde lady has been wise enough to inhale a deep breath of air. Slowly, she is getting the hang of it, tempering her groan to softer sounds of lower volume. "He is a bit older than me. About… ten years or so. I suspect a lack of practice and interest in women in general. He does have friends, though. Which doesn't make things easier, if you get what I mean?" Hands progress to work on the lower parts of her body, and the lady’s eyes, half-open as they had been, close again. "I can’t tell he times his visits to my bedchamber with considerations as these. I do bleed, yes. Regularly. I am certain that I will need to visit the temples. For spiritual guidance, as you say. In things considering love, I shall go to Elua's Temple. Eisheth… for some sort of angelic diagnosis, perhaps. Naamah… oh, for Naamah I shall set a few doves free and wish I were one of them…"

"Oh, my poor, dear thing," comes the murmur of sympathy and when the hands lift next, they are briefly replaced by a light, chaste kiss to the woman’s shoulder before the fingers and thumbs again begin their fine work, this time beginning at the neck and shoulder and working laterally, out to the upper arms, massaging biceps and triceps. "I can't imagine," Niobe adds softly, "how miserable it must be. And with the eyes of society on you, my poor sweet lady."

"Oh, sweet Elua, how pitiful of me, to speak in such a manner…" Justine sighs softly, eyelids fluttering open. "The truth is, that it is the price one pays to be a player in the courtly game. It is not miserable, not until I'd allow it to be so. I am here in this salon today. In good company, and Companions, the magic you are working through your hands, Mademoiselle Niobe… is impressive." Once again, that head comes up, surrounded by the golden shimmer of blonde hair, catching the light so that it may for once appear like a halo of sorts. "You mentioned techniques of the more intimate kind… I wonder… would you like to show them to me?"

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