(1312-02-12) Here, Kitty Kitty!
Summary: A pond, a kitten and a slightly reluctant rescuer.
RL Date: Wed Feb 12, 1312
Related: None
andrei olivia 

Jardins d'Eisheth

Tranquility and beauty of nature is what those coming to the gardens of Eisheth usually seek. There is a playfulness in the arrangement of paths through the greenery, and the way four of them wind to the center, where there is a pond surrounded by a few elm trees, beside an area with wooden benches and tables beneath an arbor, where ivy winds about wooden posts, and a roof of colorfully glazed tiles offers shelter from the sun but also moderate rain.

Bushes are trimmed, and the green is kept short, so that people coming here can enjoy the dramatic view over the coast all the way to the sea, with the harbor and the citadel slightly to the north. Slightly towards the south and close by is the infirmary with the herb garden beside, where a variety of plants used for healing and treating certain illness are grown under the immaculate care of the healers. Towards the east, a path leads towards the temple district, where the dominant structure of the Temple of Eisheth looms, the white marble shimmering almost otherworldly on late afternoons, when it catches the warm, orange light of the setting sun.


Its another chilly day in the sea port of Marsilikos. Snow has been flurrying all day, though now that the wind has dropped it makes being outside of the comfort of one's own four walls somewhat more enticing.

Thus it is that one of the newest returnees has wandered forth from the warmth of her home to enjoy the beauty of Eisheth's gardens in all their frosted glory. Wearing a cloak of pure white ermine that cossets each and every inch of her frame from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, Olivia is a figure that's easy to spot should a person be venturing into the gardens today. For it's here at the centre of the gardens, where the paths that meander the length and breadth of the gardens converge on a pond, that the woman is crouched. Two guards in the white and black livery of House d'Albert appear to be in some sort of a disagreement with her, with much gesticulation on the part of the woman towards the expanse of the ice-covered pond.

For there, sitting in its centre and mewling for help is a rather small, rather cold, and terribly wet looking kitten. How did it get there? Perhaps one of the elm trees might provide the answer, though ultimately that would be down to speculation.

Take long walks, said his lady of choice at the Coquelicot. Andrei Anghelescu is a lot of things but prone to ignoring the advice of the healer he himself hired is not one of them. He dutifully strolls about the city of Marsilikos, familiarising himself with one district after another at a literally pedestrian pace. Today, as chance would have it, he wanders the temple gardens — tall, lean man with fair hair, wearing a long black coat trimmed in silver fox-fur and occasionally leaning on a silver-tipped walking stick. The cut of his coat testifies to his not being a native — while fine of making, it was surely not made by any local tailor. One might guess the man to be a merchant of some means, perhaps, or some lord's trusted personal retainer.

He pauses at the unusual sight. Ladies of the court in fine clothing, escorted by their personal guards — nothing unexpected there, this is certainly a part of town where angels and their descendants might be expected to walk. The kitten — unfortunate. The situation is interesting enough — or he is bored enough — to pause at the edge of the pond, leaning on his walking stick, to watch in what he hopes is an unobtrusive manner; unobtrusive enough, at least, that these guards will not need to feel enthusiastic enough about their service to run him off.

As Andrei wanders closer, he'll be aware of the kissy-kissy noises that Olivia makes in the kitten's direction. That is, they're made between the pleads to her guards. They're that sort of kissy-kissy noise that hopeful humans make which allegedly serve to lure those of a feline persuasion closer. It's not working however, and neither apparently are her pleas to her guards.

"I am quite sure that it will find its own way to safety, my lady. The ice is too thin to take my weight or yours, and whom is to say how deep the water is in the centre?"

But the lady's not for turning. "I cannot just leave it Henri. Look at the poor thing." Look at it indeed. It's a tiny smoke-grey bedraggled ball of fluff, it's tiny pink tongue showing with each plaintive mewl that reaches its would-be rescuers. "Oh monsieur! Monsieur! Can you help?" Andrei's been spotted. Rising to her feet, and with all the fragility of a dandelion seed being borne his way on a breeze, Olivia rounds the pond and heads his way. "Monsieur! The kitten needs help!"

The gentleman in black blinks with blue eyes, one obscured by a monocle; barring a few notable exceptions, ladies of the court generally do not pay him much attention. He looks at her, and at the kitten, trying to gauge the distance — because while the rules of chivalry no doubt insist that he wade out to fetch the little creature, the water is very cold and he is not a strong swimmer. Also, you know, winter.

"My lady," the merchant returns politely, "perhaps we might implore on one of your guards to find a suitable implement — a pike, or more likely, a garden rake?" He's got an accent that definitely is not native to Terre d'Ange; northern — eastern, possibly both. The obvious foreigner glances about even as he speaks because honestly, if those were his guards he'd be paying them to not dare take for granted that such a scene of this might be a distraction, and he himself, simply part of the setup. He'll probably have to find that rake himself.

Given its blanket of ice, the water is indeed cold. "A rake?" Andrei's solution to the problem appears to take Olivia a little by surprise; as if to poke, prod or herd the kitten off the ice isn't something she'd thought of. Confusion shows in clear blue eyes as they settle upon the foreigner before her, and her teeth catch at her chilled and pale lower lip. "I don't think we have the time to go looking for one of the gardeners…" she eventually says, her voice riddled with worry. "The ice could fail beneath it whilst we hunt." Truth is, the kitten might have been there for hours at this point, but she knows no different. "Please monsieur, please help me?" There. She's said it. She's put Andrei on the spot with so direct a plea, her expression so earnest as she searches his face for the hoped for response.

What's a bit of cold water, after all…

Women.

Anghelescu looks at the guards briefly, exchanging a glance with the nearest man that reads something like, 'Out of you and me, monsieur, you're the bloody sane one.' Then he nods. "Here's to hoping that the water is indeed not too deep," the foreigner murmurs and tests the ice carefully with one booted foot. The walking stick, at least, has some use here — it can be used to break ice that is too thin to bear weight, because in such a case, wading is perhaps unpleasant but it's a hell of a lot safer, too.

"Companions bless you, monsieur," Olivia says quickly. In fact, uttering her thanks the very second that Andrei appears to acquiesce and test the ice. "Shall I hold your coat?" The generous offer is made as she unravels her arms from the warmth of her furs, her hands white-gloved and slim as she holds them out for their anticipated burden. "You will be careful, won't you? I believe the water might be at least waist-deep in the centre so the fish will not freeze."

Mew!

Another plaintive cry from the creature at the centre of all this attention (no, not Olivia), echoes in their direction, and two bright golden eyes watch in alarm as a rescue gets under way.

Women, Anghelescu's mental voice of reason reiterates, before sitting down in a figurative corner of his mind to figuratively sulk.

The foreigner shrugs out of his coat, revealing a well tailored, also black combination of frock coat, breeches, and waistcoat below; a sombre choice of colours, but quite apt for the merchant he appears to be, not too proud, not too attention drawing. Only his cravat has colour; a cheerful shade of cornflower blue. "I'll do my best," he murmurs and sends a thankful thought to his habit of always wearing tall boots before indeed handing over his coat for safekeeping.

Then he steps out into the icy water, the crystalline surface breaking under his weight. One step at a time, he walks towards the small, helpless animal, feeling his way ahead of himself with the walking stick. There may be unexpected deep holes, or tree roots, or anything else to stumble over down there, unseen under the ice. "Come here, you little prost." A foreign word, but the meaning is clear enough: Little fool.

Safe and warm on the shore, Olivia watches on. Andrei's coat is held fast, gathered into her arms in a facsimilie of how she'd probably wish to be holding the kitten right at this very moment. Thankfully for Andrei, the pond is man-made so there's unlikely to be the sudden surprise of yawning chasms or tree roots to catch him unawares. Goodness only knows what horrors will be visited upon his weakened constitution by such an adventure as this, but Olivia's not a party to any of that and just see with what admiration and gratitude she watches as inch by inch the gap between he and the kitten is closed. Wisps of escaped blonde blend into the guard hairs of white ermine as she watches the daring rescue from the shore of the pond. "You're doing so well, monsieur…" She calls out. "Only a little further and you'll have him!"

<FS3> Andrei rolls Sleight Of Hand: Success. (3 2 5 2 2 7 1)

The water is cold. So bloody cold. At least Anghelescu's boots are of very fine make for all he's pretending to be no one in particular, and the water stays on the outside. He inches closer to the kitten but not too close — after all, if the ice breaks under it, the little fool is going to either dash further out where wading becomes difficult, or it's going to fall in. He's pretty certain that young kittens do not have the constitution to survive a swim in icy waters unless they're very very lucky. Very very lucky kittens don't end up on the ice in the first place.

Coming to a halt and angling the walking stick so that he holds on to its tip rather than its handle, he reaches the handle forwards towards the kitten. Look, it's something to grab on to. Or, possibly, hook the little bugger and pull it towards him, whatever works.

Is this a new game? That walking stick handle looks suspiciously like one, or it does to a kitten. Kittens like pouncing. Kittens like chasing. It's the slight left-right movement of that handle as it's stretched across the ice towards le petit chaton that perhaps saves the day. *POUNCE!* A pair of tiny (wet) grey paws land upon the handle and trap it against the ice. Walking Stick 0:1 Small Kitten. It's fully engaged in this wonderful new game, even though water sluices across the ice from where it's broken by Andrei's approach. Still, with only a little more effort Andrei will be able to grab it by the scruff of its neck and make of himself the hero of the hour.

Wriggle, wriggle. The cat toy inches back towards the man, pulled across the ice, hopefully with a playful kitten attached. "There's a good little furball," Anghelescu murmurs. "Kill the pretty stick." He does not dare step closer yet for fear of breaking the ice under the feline; but the instant it does come within reach he swipes with his free hand, aiming to pick it up with a gloved hand. Sharp blue eyes inspect the diminutive lion for a collar, anything that might indicate ownership. Surely the lady would not go to such effort for a stray. Then again, the little voice in his mind points out, it's not really the lady going to the effort, is it now?

No effort? There is much effort on Olivia's part! There's the effort of fretting and worrying for a start. All the angst. All the worry. Her lower lip remains caught tightly between her teeth, though it pulls free with the exhale of relief that's surrendered on his capturing of the kitten. "Oh monsieur! Bien joué! Well done!" Andrei's coat still caught safely in the embrace of her arms, her gloved hands come together in a muffled round of applause, convinced that the kitten will be quickly brought to the edge and returned to solid ground. "You must be frozen. I am so sorry, but really I am not. You have saved a life this day, and for that I'll be forever grateful." Women.

The Carpathian wades carefully towards the shore, kitten firmly held in one hand and pressed in against his chest lest the little monster decides to go all out and try to swim ashore on its own. He feels his way back with the walking stick with the other, still acutely aware that people throw things in ponds and that tripping over some discarded parasol handle is the last thing he wants right now. Only when his boots land dry soil does he offer up the little beast to its prospective new owner. "No harm done, my lady. It seems our adventurous little friend is quite unharmed for the experience." Remind me to send some token of appreciation to my shoemaker back home.

"Oh merci. Merci monsieur. Thank you. Thank you so much…" Olivia is nothing if not effusive in her gratitude, and the smile which she then bestows upon the foreigner is as warm as the sun-drenched olive groves of the Hellenic isles from whence she's so recently returned. A faint colour paints her cheeks as she holds up Andrei's coat so that he might claim it from her. "Might I?" It's a fair exchange, one might imagine, for the bedraggled ball of fluff that's now cradled to his chest. "I must thank you properly for helping me today, but how…" she muses, even if her eyes are not upon the dare-devil rescuer but the kitten as she speaks. Oh how she itches to take it. "Coin perhaps? No, no. I feel that that would be an insult. Clearly you are a man of wealth," she deduces from the coat she still holds. "A meal? There is always a warm fire at the Golden Harbor, and you must need to warm yourself."

A kitten is exchanged for a coat which the foreigner shrugs into with some haste because while the winter's day is beautiful, the wind most certainly has a lot of sharp teeth. "I feel I should accept the offer of warmth, my lady," says the tall man with a small smile on thin lips. "I do not know the Golden Harbor, however — I trust that it is not a place where being seen in the company of a foreigner might mar a lady's reputation?" A glance towards her guards in black and white, and he adds, "I am certain that your gentlemen look after your modesty quite well enough, but I am warned that those of us who are quite mundane mortals should approach the scions with care."

"You have helped me, monsieur, and in helping me, you have pleased the Companions. You will be welcome," Olivia says happily, opening her cloak enough that she's able to swaddle the kitten within. "Henri," she says, turning to the guard with whom she'd been pleading. "Have word sent ahead to the Golden Harbor that I wish a table by the fire, and also send word to Rosalind that she's to meet me there to collect this." A miniscule lift of her arms and cloak eveloped burden. She leaves her guard to his own devices to fulfil those requests, and turns back with a shy cant of her head to look once more upon Andrei. "Has my city and the people within it treated you so ill monsieur? I am saddened if so." And she does look remorseful with that question she asks, though does go on to add. "But see how rude I myself am being. I have not even enquired of your name. I am Olivia."

The foreign man inclines his head in a slight bow, quite suitable for a member of the merchant class who is addressing nobility, however much nobility may currently not be flouncing its lineage and titles in his face. "Andrei Anghelescu. The pleasure is surely mine, my lady." He straightens at that and shakes his head lightly. "As a matter of fact, Marsilikos has been most welcoming on all accounts. I find it quite curious as it happens, since the one thing everyone seems to warn me against is your people's dislike of all things foreign — and yet I have yet to see this scorn that I am expected to be facing. I suppose that it does help that I have little business in the circles of the high born."

"Ah but it is true," Olivia admits. "We are, as a people, quite xenophobic by nature." A half-smile angles Andrei's way. "We should walk, monsieur Andrei. Though it isn't too far from here to the Golden Harbor, you are wet and will freeze whilst we talk." She starts along one of the paths that leads away from the pond, her steps slow until she's certain that his own match with hers. "If you travel further north, you will find our attitudes and tolerance less guarded." She blinks, her eyes directed again away from his, her kohl-darkened lashes casting shadows on the translucent pallor of her cheeks. "I myself have just returned from foreign shores, and whilst I delighted in every minute spent away, it is always good to return home; Home is always home, after all." A pause. "But, where is your home monsieur Andrei? Your accent I unfamiliar, and try as I might, I am unable to place it amongst those that I know."

"I hail from one of many very tiny countries in the Chowat, my lady." Anghelescu falls into stride beside the lady, ignoring the guards who walk behind; perhaps in his distant homeland, ladies of standing have similar escorts. "I am finding that I rather enjoy your milder climate " is he joking? " and indeed, the skill of your physicians. I believe I may find myself staying in Marsilikos for some time."

Behind them, the elm trees shake on the breeze, but being possessed of no more kittens to rain down on the pond, ice now shattered, they wait in wintery silence for spring to arrive. Those elm trees have seen a lot of things in their time. As far as people meeting and potential friendships forming go, a kitten isn't by far the worst excuse they've witnessed. Elm trees, being elm trees, largely are uninterested in human affairs.

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