(1312-02-15) Find Me a Wife
Summary: As it turns out, domineering mothers is a problem to many a family, d'Angeline and otherwise.
RL Date: (1312-02-15)
Related: None
andrei philomene symon 

Leaping Fish Inn — Market Promenade

The Main Room of the Leaping Fish is tidy and well-kept - and warmed by a fire in the hearth to one side on colder days and evenings. An old tapestry depicting a pair of two leaping fish is adorning the opposite wall - a reference to both the ruling House of Mereliot and the name of the inn. The common room has five tables of sturdy oak with chairs and benches, between which two serving maids move to take orders or bring food and beverages. The air is filled with tasty smells of freshly cooked meals, and murmurs of conversation - and occasionally even melodies rippling through the room, when a lute player is around to provide entertainment. The fare is of good quality that even would not disappoint noble tastes.

There are stairs leading upstairs towards a number of comfortable and well kept rooms the inn has to offer.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a winter night. The weather is freezing and clear.

Two men sit at a table, looking at papers. One sheet is a map, clearly, depicting the mediterranean coastline; the other sheets are hand written and in a language that none but the two men themselves read. They are talking in quiet tones in that very language, confident that they are very likely the only people in the entire city of Marsilikos who actually speak the Chowatti tongue but quiet all the same — you never know, and it's always better to play it safe if you want a conversation to stay private.

At a glance, the men are twins. At a closer look, one sandy-haired man wears a monocle and the other does not. The former is a year or two older than the latter. Their clothes, while similar, are not identical; the older man's frock coat is of slightly fancier make, while the younger in turn does not wear gloves indoors. Alike they certainly are, to a point where there is no debate as to whether they are blood kin. If they are not, Chowatti men are grown in pods. A bottle of wine sits on the table and from the way they talk, they are not so much master and servant as partners in whatever it is they're discussing.

<FS3> Philomene rolls Geography: Failure. (2 6 5 1 3 4 4)

With a waft of cool air from outside, followed by an all too familiar, dread thump-scrape of the distinctive limp, Marsilikos's least favourite adopted daughter makes her way into the inn. She's got the beginnings of a bruise on the corner of her jaw, there's blood on the knuckles of both hands, and there's a slight tear in the shoulder of her worn and weathered riding jacket. Battered yet still upright. Philomene all over. Nonetheless she takes a moment to squint over the map as she moves behind the two men, beginning to strip out of her jacket as she moves, and asks, "Going somewhere nice?"

Both men look up. The younger keeps a straight face, offering a small, formal nod. The older, who is indeed Andrei Anghelescu, cracks a small smile at the sight of the, shall we say, less than lady-like lady. "Why, are you in need of a fast ship out of town? Did the other man at least have it coming?" He slides a glass, unused as of yet, across the table along with the wine bottle. "Looking at potential sea ports for trade, as it happens. Nothing we cannot continue to look at later." The other man takes the not very subtle hint and nods, then begins to roll up the map and collect the assorted papers.

Philomène waves vaguely with the one hand she's freed from her jacket, shaking her head. "Don't let me disturb your business. I've nothing useful to add," she insists, finally pulling the jacket completely free and holding it up with a wrinkle of her nose. Once it's not actually on her, it's rather more clear to see from the tangle of threads in the lining that far from the elaborate embroidery on it being there entirely for decoration, every vine, leaf or stem has been masterfully worked to repair and disguise a large number of old tears, cuts and wear. There's a spot of blood high on the back of her shoulder, dark red against the almost-white of her shirt, which becomes visible when she turns to find herself a seat at the next table. "I've also never run from a fight, and I don't intend to start now. Keep your fast ship."

Anghelescu smirks. "That's probably a good thing, considering that I might have to ask you to take a seat while I went to acquire one. Are you all right, though?"

His companion offers a light bow and withdraws, papers under one arm, upstairs. The Carpathian glances after him and adds, "You are not interrupting. We had little else to do this afternoon but consider our options and debate what port cities might prove the more interesting to Domul Szimfonia — since he will be travelling in my place, and indeed, my name."

Philomène winces as she sits down, an expression quickly covered by her usual schooled blankness, but it's there for those watching closely enough. The jacket is spread out across the table to be examined for damage, but she glances back to the foreigner. "Some people have no sense of sportsmanship. Who pulls a dagger in a regular fistfight? It's not on. And what the fuck is a 'Domul Shinzonia'?"

The smirk on Anghelescu's thin lips widens. "That does seem terribly unsporting. I trust the fellow will be spending a few days laid up, trying to remove the dagger from the orifice you inserted it firmly up into?" He pours himself a glass of wine as well. "Mr Szimfonia is my manservant. And, as you no doubt already surmised, my half-brother. Given our close resemblance he has doubled for me once or twice in recent years when my health has kept me from travelling."

Philomène pokes a finger into the rent made in her jacket's shoulder, pointing out rather indignantly, "Look! Look at this! Appalling behaviour!" She sniffs, half turns in her seat, and claims the closest glass of wine. Clearly he was pouring for her, right? "I can see how that would be useful. When you're so much of an ass that everyone wants to kill you, they can try to kill him instead. Or, more likely, when they think you're tucked up in one place, you've got eyes and ears in another. This wine is shit," she adds, lifting her hand to catch the attention of a server. Yep. They know well enough what she wants to drink, and soon enough a clear bottle is brought over to join the wine.

Anghelescu chuckles and fails to take offence at the critique of his wine choices. "I'm rather fond of my brother as it happens, and I certainly hope that no one will decide to try to kill him for whatever reason. But if indeed someone does decide to try, I suspect that Mr Szimfonia will be more capable of giving them a good fight than I will, anyhow."

"I have no brothers," Philomene points out. "Which is rather why I ended up learning to fight. Although I'm a damn sight better on the back of a horse than I am on a dodgy leg in the back of a pub when some twat comes at me with a knife. I'm fucking irritated is what I am. I like this jacket."

"I have no legitimate brothers," the Carpathian notes and sips his wine glass with a mildly sympathetic look; having a good coat ruined is terribly annoying. "I used to be decent with a blade, but eh. Yes. M. Szimfonia is quite talented. And, I should add, not prone to saying much unless he is indeed pretending to me. I'm sure he wishes I'd be less of a chatterbox." There is obviously a familiarity between the two men that goes beyond the regular master and servant relationship, though of course it is hard to tell if that affection goes both ways.

"Take him around with you more often," Philomene suggests with a smirk, tipping the remains of her wine into Andrei's glass so she can top up her own with schnapps instead. "They'll assume you're sleeping with him and probably wind their necks in a bit about trying to set you up with whoever they're trying to set you up with these days."

Anghelescu blinks, and then sips his repurposed wine. That suggestion clearly caught him a little off guard. "I imagine that even in this decadent realm of peacocks one is not supposed to lay with one's brother, legitimate or not."

Philomène eyes him. "I was assuming that you didn't put a sign on him reading 'brother', Monsieur Anghelescu. Besides, all foreigners look the same anyway."

The other man raises one brow over the monocle. "Surely we don't look that much alike. Szimfonia and I have successfully impersonated one another in our own damn country. Fairly often at that after I fell ill. One must be seen upright and breathing, every once in a while, to maintain one's position."

Philomène takes a sip from her glass then sets it down on the table, leaning in a little. "Here's the thing. You might have noticed that part of having the blood of the angels in our veins is that there is not a single d'Angeline among us all who does not have a certain look to them. Not everyone is to my taste, it's true, but you can't deny that as a race there's not a one among us who could not be described as beautiful." All this is stated in a rather matter of fact tone. It's just how it is. "Foreigners automatically look different. Unusual. They lack the thing that makes us d'Angeline, and that lack rather homogenises the lot of you when we look at you. At a glance, without knowing you, I would easily confuse you and your brother. But I'd also assume you're related to the Flatlander princeling idiot, and you might also be close family for all I can tell. It isn't personal, you just don't look like us."

"And yet my mother was in fact d'Angeline while indeed, Szimfonia's was not," Anghelescu murmurs, amusement glittering in blue eyes. "I'm guessing I didn't inherit the scion look — we do like to say that the Anghelescu blood is strong and that it will show. Do I want to ask who the Flatlander princeling idiot is supposed to be, though? This is the second time you have compared me to him."

"That must be why you're getting all the attention and your brother isn't," Philomene suggests with a half smile, leaning back again in her seat. "Oh, the Flatlander. Young, male, blond… also bland. He was responsible for the defence of that Skaldi spy who stabbed me, so you can imagine we're not exactly on the greatest of terms. He was one of the foreigners here for the exhibition, you must have heard about that at least?"

"No?" Anghelescu shrugs. He's made no pretense that d'Angeline affairs interested him much before actually setting foot in the country. "But that does indeed explain your dislike. I do find the notion that anyone who is younger than you, blond, male, and indeed not d'Angeline all look alike quite amusing. If you all think like this, then indeed, you're not going to be making hard for me to appear in two places at once in this country. I should bring my entire damn family and become, literally, the man who can appear in nineteen different locations in one hour, some of them in different provinces."

Philomène grins at that, thumb running along the rim of her glass. "I'm not saying it'd work, but I wouldn't bet against it. Just be careful in Camlach. Looking foreign in Camlach is a fairly sure way to get yourself killed."

"People keep saying that about Marsilikos too," Anghelescu points out. "And yet the most firm assault on my life here so far has involved a young lady asking me to stop into a semi-frozen pond to rescue a kitten. I'll admit, I do not walk your streets in dread terror of losing my life to assault any moment now."

"Well, you have made the rather smart tactical move of making friends with the women most likely to kill you," Philomene points out. "And the other smart move of not walking in with a lot of Opinions to tell us how we're all hedonistic heathens and your own country is far superior. That doesn't tend to go down well."

The foreigner sips his wine and offers a light shrug of a shoulder coated in midnight blue; a simple floral design of acanthus leaves in silver thread lines the collar; foreign, indeed, but not at all without a certain aesthetical value. "I rather imagine how I would feel, were you to walk into Podgrabczyna and declare us barbarians, heathens, and primitives. I need only apply that logic to myself, to refrain from doing something similar here. Besides, Terre d'Ange can teach my people a great deal. Only a fool is too proud to learn from his betters."

And then a slightly predatory grin flits across his face as he adds, "Friends, are we now? And here I seem to recall somebody telling me in no uncertain terms that foreigners cannot be befriended. I'll take it as a compliment."

"You did bring me wine and I'm a simple creature," Philomene allows, amused. "Besides I'm rather starved for friends, being the embodiment of all evil and so forth." She sips again from her schnapps, tilting her chair back on two legs. "Thirsty work, being this awful."

"Yes. You are terrible. Evil incarnate." The self-proclaimed merchant shrugs. "I almost hope to be present when a foreigner who does indeed match your prejudice turns up. It should prove quite the spectacle and I might indeed learn a few new interesting words. That said, I've already picked up a few terms that I definitely did not hear in my mother's parlour, mostly from the — shall we say, not so lady-like establishments along the piers. A very colourful clientele to be found in some of those."

Symon has arrived.

"We'll have you speaking like one of us, even if you don't look like one of us, before we send you home, then," Philomene promises. She and Andrei sit at one of the tables, one bottle of wine and one bottle of something clearly not wine in front of them, along with her brown jacket spread out and looking somewhat the worse for wear. As, in fact, does Philomene herself, with the beginnings of a bruise starting to colour the corner of her jaw, blood on scraped knuckles and, although she's yet to notice it herself, a spreading patch of dark red blood showing through her shirt at the back of her shoulder.

Andrei Anghelescu, on the other hand, looks like a merchant of some means, elegantly dressed in shades of dark blue trimmed with silver and one blue eye obscured by a monocle. He's a tall, fair-haired man who is easily identified as a foreigner the instant he opens his mouth — while his accent is not grating it's definitely not d'Angeline and couldn't pass for d'Angeline if it put on a trenchcoat and a fake beard.

Remarkably, he and Lady Philoméne seem to be on non-hostile, possibly even friendly terms. "Myes," the man cedes. "I'll have to admit that some of those expressions are probably not ones I will wish to introduce to polite company back home. Although I could see the humour of doing so, and pretending, indeed, that they are polite. Upper class peacocks, alas, are a fairly universal thing."

Symon looks neither like a merchant nor a bruiser, but an ordinary nobleman of no momentous consequence. Speaking of upper-class peacocks has summoned an example of the breed, perhaps. He is wrapped in a camel-colored wool cloak which he keeps held closed in front as he bundles in and moves toward the fire.

"It's a famous d'Angeline idiom to compare somebody's mother to the female genitalia, for example," Philomene notes solemnly. "It's a compliment to their fecundity." She takes another drink from her glass, a relaxed smile on her face for now. "Ho, here, I'll do you a good turn. Here's a young man who has a lot going for him and a damn good title on the cards. If you can get a trade deal with him, I imagine that'll do your finances some good." She raises her voice a little, calling over, "Lord Symon, you look cold. Come and join us for a glass of something warming. This is my friend Monsieur Anghelescu from the Chowat."

The Carpathian's blue eyes settle on the other man — or, well, to be precise, on the back of his camel-coloured coat. He quirks an eyebrow silently over the monocle; that'll be the first time in his three weeks in Marsilikos he has heard Philomène say something about a fellow noble of the male persuasion that did not imply a wish to go overboard with a pair of scissors. He studies the other man with interest even as he waits for the nobleman to react to the lady's invitation.

"Is it?" Symon finds himself asking on overhearing, but this talk of his advantages has him even more curious, and he approaches, a bit round-eyed. "Oh, how kind," he says. "M…Monsieur…" His expression goes blank as he tries to recall the unfamiliar name said only seconds ago. "I…Oh, b-but you're b…bleeding, aren't you," he says to Philomene, looking rather alarmed.

Philomène absently rubs at her knuckles to clear away any actual blood there. "I'll live, I'm sure," she notes vaguely, pushing out a chair for the young man. "Wine or something with a bit more kick for you?"

Maybe the stories of foreign barbarians and their utter indifference to the pains of the wounded are all true; maybe the foreigner with the near-unpronouncable name is just too familiar with a certain lady's temper to suggest that she might need assistance. Either way he stands and offers a small, polite bow as suited for a member of the merchant class being introduced to a highborn lord. "My lord," he says politely. "If you are a friend of Lady Philomène's, please join us indeed."

"On your b-back, though," Symon persists in pointing out. "You'll ruin the jacket." He eyes Philomene doubtfully, but he hardly has the courage to pursue the matter any more than that if she is set against it. "As you know, I w…won't say no to w-wine. Or much of anything." He smiles, with just a note of uncertainty due to Philomene's condition, and makes a brief bow before he sits down. "Hello," he says, turning his eyes to Andrei. "I'm Symon de P…Perigeux." He smiles with a touch of regret, but also the pleasure of meeting. "W…would you say your name for me again? Something about angels, w…was it?"

Philomène rather irritably, reaches back over one shoulder, examines her fingers, then the other and repeats. The blood on her fingertips this second time results in a few unladylike words under her breath. She wipes her fingers clean on her breeches and gathers the jacket together on the table to identify if, as expected, the hole in the fabric matches the approximate area of this newfound hole in herself. She snaps her fingers to gain the attention of the serving staff, explaining even as she pours a glass of wine for Symon, "I need a needle and thread, if you please."

The foreigner really is foreign; at least the prestigious Siovali name sparks no recognition in his blue eyes. "Andrei Anghelescu," he repeats with a small smile even as he sits back down. "I fear that the reference is not to the angels that your people pay such reverence to, though. I am but a visitor to Terre d'Ange, and Lady Philomène has been kind enough to show me all the errors of my uncultured and foreign ways."

The mutterings of the lady in question even as she discovers extent of her injuries prompts a blithe look in her direction. "And that expression, I believe, is the polite, d'Angeline way to introduce one-self to the daughter of the village mayor?"

"Angelescue," Symon approximates, nodding. "W…welcome to M-Marsilikos, then. I hope you find it comfortable. W…winter is perhaps not our b-best season, b-but it is better here than in the north." He smiles and takes the wine from Philomene, even though he looks rather mystified about these etiquette lessons of Andrei's. "Did you m…meet a b-brigand?" he asks Philomene.

"No, no, I just got into a fight because I'm too old and stubborn to turn one down, and the idiot pulled a knife," Philomene explains resignedly, nodding her thanks as the needle and thread are in fact brought over. Well, it's an inn. No doubt these are useful things to have around. "The Perigeux," she notes for the foreigner's benefit as she deftly threads the needle, "hold rather a lot of land in Siovale, to the south west. They grow… olives..?" she ventures with a raised brow towards Symon.

The foreigner sips his wine; a house red from the looks of it. "Thank you. Your winter here is indeed quite milder than what I am accustomed to. My country lies in high mountains and the wind can be quite merciless this time of year, my lord. Far better for a man of poor health to remain in this warmer climate, and expand my d'Angeline glossary — Lady Philomène has proved most helpful in this regard."

He places his glass on the table after drinking and glances from one to the other as he files away the geographical reference. "I am given to understand that there is to be a festival of sorts in not too long — a couple of wine merchants were going over their stocks here earlier and they argued a great deal about what to keep available and what to ship out to make room for other wares. Have you come to the city to display your martial prowess, my lord?"

Symon would perhaps make a fuss over anyone else being stabbed, but it doesn't seem the thing to do with Philomene. "Oh yes, there are olives," he agrees, bobbing his head. "Grapes, of course. Sheep. All sorts of things grow rather w…well in Siovale." He shakes his head at Andrei. "Oh, in that case I don't b…blame you for escaping here," he says with an easy smile, raising his glass in a vague sort of toast. "I imagine Philomene knows lots of w…words the rest of us hesitate to speak. B-between her and the Night Court, you could become an absolute scholar." He laughs lightly at the suggestion that he has martial prowess. "Oh, no. I'll go and w…watch, though. Etienne w…was so good on the horses last year." He grins at Andrei. "I don't have any skills, b-but I do know how to enjoy things."

Philomène ignores her shoulder for now, beginning to stitch together the rent in her jacket. "It's a regular festival, to honour the Companions," she explains. "I might ride this year, although I'm not certain if it's appropriate to be out enjoying myself with my husband barely yet cold. I'm fairly certain I'm supposed to be pining at home. Possibly weeping daily. I'm not sure, perhaps there's some literature on the whole thing."

"I was hoping to watch some of the archery and sword play contests perhaps," Anghelescu murmurs thoughtfully. "My country sports quite decent archers. It will be interesting to see if the d'Angeline archers are indeed that much better — but of course I am informed that everything d'Angeline is indeed better." A small smile at the lady at the table; one could probably guess who here holds that opinion. "Although I suspect I might find myself going to watch the equestrian competitions as well if someone I know is indeed riding."

"Oh," says Symon, and he remembers to dip his head at Philomene and offer an ill-considered, "M…my condolences." He smiles at Andrei again. "I don't know v…v…very m-many foreigners. "M…my friend came b-back with a Tiberian or something. Oh, b-but you should go see the riding, it's terribly exciting."

"I can't speak for our archers," Philomene admits as she sews, attention on the material. It's not a normal sight, no, a noblewoman repairing her clothing in the middle of an inn. "It's possible that your country has the edge on us there. Horses and blades, though, there are none better. You think we hold back the Skaldi through sweet smiles and explicit pornography alone?"

Anghelescu must indeed be accustomed to Lady Philomène's direct and often very blunt approach to humour. He laughs softly and says, "I'll give you, my lady, that if I thought that was the case, I should have sought deployment to that border instead, just to see it. In a forest land such as mine, though, cavalry fares poorly — but archers who know how to move unseen between the trees do indeed not." He studies the young — well, younger than himself, anyhow — nobleman's face a moment. "You are a breeder of horses, my lord?"

"Our p-pornography is also quite good though," Symon puts in lightly, pausing to sip his wine. "I only suppose it is not in the competitions b-because it is honored daily." At the question, he looks puzzled, then smiles. "Oh, no," he says. "I've nothing to do w…with it."

"There is a performance contest, among other things," Philomene muses thoughtfully. "If you've anything particularly artistic you want to show off. I don't know, maybe you can tie yours into funny shapes or something?"

It's probably a good thing that Anghelescu was not sipping his wine at that comment; at least he makes a face at the mental imagery. "This country never ceases to amaze, indeed. Only d'Angelines might consider pornography a weapon." He shakes his head, laughing softly to himself. "You'll bear with us I'm sure, my lord. The lady has developed a taste of attempting to flustering me about your quite… unusual customs."

"Are they unusual?" Symon asks, tilting his head slightly off center and looking curiously at the foreigner? "W…why? W-what are your customs? I have heard they have funny ways in other countries, especially as comes to love."

"Love, as far as I can gather, is completely banned in the Chowat," Philomene helpfully inserts, turning the lining of her jacket to make sure it's held together. "And sex is only permitted under careful supervision of their priests, no?"

Anghelescu watches them both, amused. "All I have to say on that is that I wonder why every discussion with d'Angeline end on the same subject matter at hand. Tell me about these contests instead — the ones that don't involve people undressing in public."

"B-but the contests are exactly what you think," Symon protests. "P-people competing to b…be the best at shooting, fighting, racing, p…performing…" He loses track and looks to Philomene for help. "W…what are the other ones? Surely you have such things in Chowat, especially if you do not spend time enjoying love?"

"The subject always comes up becauuse it's hugely amusing to watch your expression every time," Philomene admits, absently reaching back over her shoulder to see if the bleeding has stopped. Either it has not, or the spot of blood on her shirt has not dried. "Yes, what do you spend your days doing, Monsieur Anghelescu? Other than trying to sell your very fine lumber."

"Myes. People do get conceived and indeed born in the Chowat, presumably in a fashion similar to here, my lord. We just make less of a public fuss about it," Anghelescu murmurs wryly. "I may have to ask your forgiveness, my lord. I do not wish to slight your country. It's just that during my brief stay in your city, the issue that seems to weigh heaviest on the mind of most people I meet is indeed who I am shagging and why. It gets a little… Allow me to remain polite and say, there is a certain cultural obsession. And indeed, the lady is hell bent on seeing if she can cause a blush."

He arches a pale eyebrow at said lady's inquiry, pretending to not notice that her hand comes away bloody. "I seem to spend a fair part of my day plotting how to take over your city's smuggling rings and cheaper taverns, establish myself as as trader of foreign wines, and indeed, watching a lady bleed on an inn floor because she is too proud to ask for assistance or at least a bandage."

Symon shrugs at Andrei's cultural critique. "Then w…what do you p…prefer to talk of?" he asks. "W-wine?" He lifts his glass and has a deep swallow of it. "I don't know anything about lumber, b-but surely it is needed everywhere." He grins and says, "How w…would you like to trade in Siovalese w…wine and oils?"

Philomène eyes Andrei for a moment, then bites off the end of thread she's working on and jabs the needle down into the pile of fabric. "Their wine is good," she admits thoughtfully, wincing again as she shifts and turns completely in her seat to sit on it sideways, her back to both men. "You'd certainly make good money selling that on back home," she advises, crossing her arms over her chest and lifting her shirt clean off. "There, if you're going to be an arse about it, stop it bleeding then." It's certainly not the first injury of this kind she's had, judging from the numbers of small scars and pits, some with the telltale sign of suturing, some without, that cross her back and arms.

<FS3> Andrei rolls Composure: Good Success. (6 1 1 2 8 3 1 7 3)

"I might not at all be disinterested in such a matter, my lord. There are wine making nations in the Chowat, and I do think that a number of them are as good as d'Angeline wines, though they are different in taste and aroma. My own country is too cold for grapes, but I believe that I might be able to facilitate trade in either direction; after all, what noble regent does not wish to impress his guests by serving exotic food and drink, regardless how good his own?"

And then the woman next to him just pulls her shirt off. For a moment the Carpathian stares blankly. Then he shakes his head and, laughing softly, reaches over to examine the inquiry. A napkin off the table to wipe away the smear of blood and determine the seriousness of the cut. "I'll beg you to remember that I am no chirurgeon," he murmurs.

"Oh, heavens," Symon says when Philomene removes her shirt at Andrei's criticism. But he looks more cautiously amused than scandalized. "Oh, yes, your w-wine m…may be lovely," Symon says. "B-but people do like v…v…variety in w…wine. At least it is so here, where every region m-makes their own kind." He smiles at Andrei. "You did suggest she should ask for help."

"You've spent enough time around the medical profession, maybe something useful's rubbed off on you," Philomene retorts, fingering her shirt now she has that in her hands and sucking her teeth irritably at the blood stain. No doubt her maid will have something to say about that. "Just poke something in it to stop it bleeding, if you're so concerned about the floor."

<FS3> Andrei rolls Medicine: Success. (2 2 2 8)

"I may not have intended to imply that she should ask the man at the table whose idea of field medicine is prod them with a boot and if they still mewl, they can still fight," Anghelescu grouses quietly. "Yes, the floor is absolutely my primary concern. It's not like they're going to make you wash it, is it?" Although in fairness, odds aren't in favour of anyone trying it with him either, but why let Philomène have all the complaining fun? He inspects the cut carefully and then murmurs, "I fear I have bad news. You're absolutely going to die. Eventually. But not from this. Innkeep, a clean napkin and a bandage if you must tear some pillow to make one. It's a pretty shallow cut."

"That sounds like it w…would b-be her idea, too," Symon ventures to say of Philomene, lifting the wineglass perhaps to avoid seeing whether she disapproves.

Philomène casts a broad grin at Symon. It's possible that she's actually enjoying herself. But then she does have strong liquor in front of her, and she's clearly been in a fight. This might come as no surprise to anyone. "Ah well, better luck next time. And when I die, say nice things about me at my funeral. Lie as much as you need to." She helpfully lifts her arm to demonstrate how that makes it bleed a little more. Helping. "Lord Symon, how's your search for a wife going? Have you had any luck with our northern cousins? I'm sure you were looking to them last we spoke, weren't we?"

Anghelescu murmurs a few words under his breath as he applies the clean napkin to the cut and uses the provided bandage to secure it in place. Some of those words are in his own language. A few are not — 'stubborn like a goat' and 'temperament of a drunk hedgehog' among them.

"Oh, w-well, yes," Symon says, looking a little embarrassed at the subject. "Really, I…am somewhat undecided and p-plan to have talks w…with a few p-people who m…might give counsel. I'm w-wise enough to know I am not w-wise."

"Asking for advice is probably the brightest thing any of us could do," Philomene admits, rolling her shoulder again, partly to test it and partly just to be a little shit while Andrei is trying to secure the bandage. "I imagine my own life would be a dozen times easier if on occasion I thought to listen to other people."

"Can always take the easy route and just don't get married," the Carpathian murmurs, pulling Philomène's shirt up in place over the bandage. "Certainly saves on the headaches of finding someone one can stand the thought of waking up next to. I've got a couple of aunts riding me hard to find a wife myself. Told them get stuffed."

"I don't think it is easier," Symon tells Andrei regretfully. "I am the heir in m…my family. W-which m-means I'll need an heir m…myself. That's how it w-works."

"Separate rooms," Philomene suggests, pulling her shirt down over herself and straightening the collar out. "You don't have to wake up next to them, then. Do your duty, sire an heir, then separate rooms."

"And when you die, what concern is it to you who takes that throne after you? I may not be a lord of Terre d'Ange but what possessions I do hold in the world they can burn, give to charity or go to war over when I am gone," Anghelescu says and reaches for his wine glass. "Whatever happens after I pick up and leave for a more permanent address where I presumably will never freeze again, it will no longer be my problem. Nor will I have inflicted my heritage on some unfortunate son. It only works that way because we agree to let it, my lord. Let whoever wants to inherit sort it out."

Symon holds up a hand and smiles. "You have not m…met my m…mother," he says to Andrei. "She will not allow m-me to ruin the family line, I p-promise you." He cuts his eyes to the side. "And I…do w-want to inherit. I'm not m…made to be a p-pauper."

Philomène takes up her glass, using it to point at Andrei. "Your family line might mean nothing to you, but I could never in good conscience ever advise giving up on one's family entirely like that. We have a duty to perform. It's not just waving a title around like a new toy."

"I imagine that might complicate matters," Anghelescu cedes. "If you can indeed be disinherited. Then I'll have to second Lady Philomène's suggestion. Reach an arrangement with some young lady whom you don't find entirely abhorrent, do your mutual duty, and try to not bother one another too much."

He glances to the lady in question as she fixes her weaponised wine glass in his direction. "I am my family, my lady. I am fortunately free of such obligations, barring for that couple of opinionated aunts who do not share my name and do not stand to inherit."

"I already w…was once, in a small sense," Symon says with a small smile, and drains his wine. "And yes, I know how m…marriage w-works, b-but to find someone who is right, that is not so easy as you think."

"In my experience you just need to find somebody you don't immediately throttle within the first few years," Philomene notes drily. "One can become fond of a husband or wife over time, even if they might not have been entirely your first or indeed any sort of choice. Your children, though, will infuriate you, drive you to insanity and make you want to murder them daily, but I promise you that you'd lay down your life for them in a heartbeat."

"I shall have to take your word for that," the foreigner says, leaning back on his chair and sipping his wine. Then he looks at the younger man with blue eyes that seem almost sympathetic for a moment. "I suppose it depends on your definition of 'right'. But if you do find true love, I shall raise a toast in your honour for proving that it does indeed exist."

"I am not as worried about fondness," Symon replies. "That w…would b-be nice. B-but there is also…" He laughs gently at what Andrei says and shakes his head. "True love is not w…what I mean. Even I am not so naive. B-but someone who w…will not come to b-blows w…with my m…mother, someone who w…will not control me b-but p…perhaps be w…wiser than I, these things are difficult, that is all."

Philomène laughs quietly, shaking her head. "I tell you what, Lord Symon, if you find somebody who fits those criteria but would come to blows with your mother, send her on to me instead."

Anghelescu studies the younger man's face for a while from behind his wine glass. Then, some old grudge in his heart seems to win a figurative arm wrestle with the part of him that would caution against discussing personal affairs with strangers — or anyone else. "Yes. I do know what you mean," he says quietly. "You are a young man, my lord. Your mother will die while you are still young enough to sire children. Consider waiting. There cannot be two women ruling a household without that household turning into a war zone."

Symon flashes Philomene a smile. "You see, everyone w…wants such a p-person," he says. Then he looks to Andrei and shrugs his shoulders. "My m…mother w-will not relinquish life so easily," he says. "She has already outlived one son. She is a strong w-woman."

Philomène nods towards Andrei. "And that is the reason I left Gueret and returned here this year," she adds quietly. "If I'd remained it would have been a far more difficult transition for my daughter. Of course," she adds towards Symon, "you could insist your mother move away."

Anghelescu glances at Philomène and nods his approval. He decides against commenting on her advice to the unfortunate young lord. Who knows — maybe he does not feel that he is qualified to advice d'Angeline gentry on how to deal with troublesome parents. The foreigner signals the innkeep for a new glass of spirits, though, and this time his glass matches Philomène's, containing a spirit far stronger than the house red.

Symon looks a mixture of amused and horrified as if Philomene just suggested he put a saddle on a tiger. He shakes his head, but he does reach to pour more wine. If people are getting fresh drinks anyway.

Philomène snorts a quiet laugh. "My point is that you and whichever wife you choose need not actually live with your mother. Stay here in Marsilikos until it's your turn, by which point you'll have enough knowledge of your wife to know if you need to send your mother away or not. If she's any good sense, she'd leave herself. It's the only kind thing to do."

"Pretty certain mine would have made it her mission in life to murder any unfortunate bride I brought home," Anghelescu murmurs and helps himself to another refill. Issues? No idea what you're on about, no issues here, nope.

Symon grins at Andrei when he admits to perhaps understanding Symon's position. He nods once. "It's all right, really," he says. "I w…will settle it soon. This year. Certainly. And…w-we'll manage to find a way to do things b-best."

Philomène snorts again, this time with rather more derision. "I'll have you know I get on rather well with Florent, my son in law. He's a bit quiet, but there are certainly worse faults to have, and he's a damn hard worker with the tenants. I think you'd probably like him, Lord Symon. I should put you in touch, so you can discuss how marriage doesn't have to be awful."

"Here's to mothers who have the good bloody common sense to not ruin the lives of their sons — or daughters as it may be." Anghelescu raises his glass towards Lady Philomène and then replies, "I'm sure that marriage doesn't have to be awful, my lady, but it takes only little effort to make it so. In circles where people wed for the sake of inheritance and dynasty, far more so. I do not envy our young lord here his position. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that I can safely ignore that whole debacle." Nope, no issues. Pass that schnapps.

Symon raises his glass also. He looks curiously at Andrei, but says nothing. The lord did complain of d'Angelines being too obsessed with matters of love. "Is trade your greatest joy, or have you some p-pursuit that m-makes you happier still?"

Philomène takes a swig from her glass, moves to top it up, then sets it aside, at least for as long as it takes her to slide her arms back into her jacket and tug it straight on her body, the new tear in the shoulder at least mostly repaired for now, even if it's not disguised yet with delicate embroidery. That will have to wait. "Drinking, and leading poor, sweet, innocent and unsuspecting Chalasse women astray?" she suggests.

"I take some pleasure in academic pursuits, and in playing the violin," Anghelescu murmurs, possibly not at all unhappy with the change of subject. "I have — collected a bit of a library back home. I might decide to expand my collection while I am here, though everything hinges somewhat on whether your excellent Marsilikan healers decide that I might actually live another few years. Do you read, my lord?"

It's possible that he would have expanded on the subject but Philomène's statement causes him to turn his head and just look at her. "My lady, if you were ever innocent and unsuspecting I was still in my swathes at the time."

"Oh, did you lead the V…Vicomtesse astray?" Symon asks with great amusement. "You're not the one who stabbed her, are you?"

"I'd like to think that if he stabbed me, he'd have more to show for it," Philomene grumbles, rolling her eyes. She takes up her drink again, cradling it in her hands like a security blanket. Security schnapps? Sure, why not. "We'll have to find you a fiddle, though, and hear you play."

"I may occasionally be tempted to stab her, my lord." The lady nets herself another scowl, though one might question how serious the Carpathian actually is. Then he shakes his head and loses the mock indignation. "I play for myself. I do not perform, my lady. I am a merchant, not a circus artiste."

"I like m…music," Symon volunteers cheerfully. "Oh, b-but how did the two of you m-meet in the first p…place anyway?"

"I didn't stab him. I'm beginning to reconsider the wisdom in not doing so now," Philomene explains, settling back with her drink and a slight smile.

"I was going for a quiet glass of wine at a tavern nearby and found myself sharing a table with a woman who'd just beaten up a handful of sailors," Anghelescu murmurs. "This on my first day in Marsilikos. Fool that I am, I let my curiosity get the better of me. I'd never met one of your fighting women before."

"B-but you don't mean to say today," Symon seeks to confirm. "The two of you seem like old friends, after all."

"Technically I didn't beat up anyone," Philomene demurs. "I just happened to be there and might have helped encourage a few people to run into my fist." She glances between the two men, raising a brow. "Ah no, not old friends as such. But he did fight against the Skaldi many years ago, which makes us family in one way. Enough that I'm happy to drink his wine."

"Three weeks I have been in this city and already I am called 'old friend' of the woman whom everyone else warns me eats foreigners alive and not in one of those ways the salons might offer, either." Anghelescu's eyes glitter with amusement. "Perhaps we are both just bitter veterans with lots of scars to compare, my lord. At least we have our hatred of Skaldi in common; my country shares a border with that people as well."

Symon drinks deeply of the wine and smiles. "I understand that fighting a common cause m…makes the b-best ally," he says, nodding. "I've no fighting experience myself."

"You're Siovalese," Philomene points out easily. "It's not expected of you. That's why for some reason the rest of the country is still happy to put up with grumpy old Camaelines like me."

Anghelescu leans forward, resting an elbow on the table and asks curiously, "Camaelines are famous for chewing resin and kicking Skaldi backside. What is the Siovalese contribution to Terre d'Ange, then? I am fascinated by the way each of your provinces seems to have — quite its own nature."

Symon looks thoughtful and tilts his head. "I don't know," he says, "I haven't spoken to m…many p-people outside of Siovale to learn their opinions. B-but of course in Siovale w…we think we are the b-best in all things." He looks to Philomene. "W…what would you say?"

"In general? Well, the provinces were founded by the angels, and those descended from them tend to have certain of their characteristics," Philomene explains, knocking back her drink and pouring another, before experimentally reaching back to see how the napkin and bandage is doing at soaking up her blood. In good news, it doesn't seem to have made it through her jacket, so perhaps she's in no immediate danger. "Siovale was founded by Shemhazai, the wisest of all the angels. Siovalese tend to think first and act later. Diametrically our opposite, I think."

Anghelescu glances at the young lord and raises his eyebrows, then nods. "No, actually, I can see that." A compliment? Possibly.

"W-well, not me," Symon denies, blinking before he laughs. "M…marriage aside, I don't think about anything."

"Secretly Camaeline, then," Philomene insists solemnly. "That explains why I like you."

Anghelescu's lip twitches. "And I am what, half Kushelite? Which makes me..?"

"I suppose you'd b-be the p…punishing type then," Symon says. "Are you rather strict?" He drinks again.

"Justice," comes Philomene's mild correction. "Punishment, when it's just. So are you at least half just?"

"The punishing type," the foreigner muses. "I hate to admit it but I am starting to think these… stereotypes… may actually contain some grain of truth. My mother was Kushelite and she certainly did enjoy her righteous indignation and dishing out proper discipline. Whether I do… Oh. Justice. No, I don't suppose I am any more or less just than the next man." He shrugs lightly. "Nor do I take particular pleasure in punching someone in the face. It does seem that the d'Angeline blood did not carry in my case, does it not?"

Symon grins at Andrei again, and looks to Philomene. "See, p-punishment, not justice," he says, claiming the victory there. "That at least carries."

"Perhaps," Philomene allows with a half smile. "But I'd argue that there's no man alive who takes no pleasure from punching certain people in the face. Given the right provocation."

"Well, if you make it personal…" Anghelescu cedes. "There's been a few times where I was not sorry to settle a matter in a more permanent fashion. We take politics seriously in the Chowat."

"I don't think I've p-punched anyone since I was a b-boy," Symon puts in. "Can't say I ever especially enjoyed that."

Philomène arches a brow. "Perhaps you've just never had the right provocation, then? Or your Siovalese is showing through."

"Perhaps you d'Angeline are just too civilised to settle territorial disputes in such a fashion," the foreigner murmurs.

Symon frowns a little, either at the idea of being provoked to fighting or that he should be accused of thinking before acting. "I hope I never shall b-be," he replies. "B-but you are right, Monsieur Andrei, I am terribly civilized. Civilization comes w…with all the b-best things."

"Perhaps we ought to follow the barbaric nature of your people?" Philomene presses, flicking Andrei a faintly ironic smile. "I like civilisation, on the whole. It provides art, music, damn good healers, but best of all, damn good drinks. Anyone need another?"

"Hells yes," Anghelescu murmurs with a forwardness at least Philomène might not usually associate with his normally very restrained self; seems a few buttons may have been pressed. "If we're going to be debating the values of d'Angeline culture contra the values of Chowatti culture, then I will definitely need to be drunk. Last time I tried to do that sober, the lady here challenged me to a duel."

Symon nods quickly. "W…what exactly are the two of you drinking?" he wants to know now that he's had a bit of wine. "And w…what w-would you w…want for a p-prize if you w…won a competition?" The Siovalese lord asks Philomene. He gestures to Andrei's cup. "B-by all m-means, drink up."

"Schnapps, but it's not the good stuff," Philomene explains, offering her glass over to the young man and waggling it enticingly. "Try some if you like. We don't grow a whole lot of grapes in Camlach, so this is the drink of choice over wine." She pauses for a moment, then allows, "Or mead, I guess." She pauses then, narrowing her eyes suspiciously. "What kind of competition are we talking about?"

"The festival ones, I imagine? Let me think… This seems a fairly safe question to reply to, given that I do not expect to find myself in the field." Anghelescu steeples his gloved hands under his chin. "Let me think — a few good brood mares, perhaps. I am no great horseman but I know people at home who would commit murder for a fine horse from the Occident, and surely they must come through here."

Symon reaches for the glass to try this dubious liquor. He makes a bit of a face at it, but laughs. "Oh, one of the upcoming ones," he says, nodding in Andrei's direction. "The one of your choice." He nods at Andrei's answer. "Interesting. P-perhaps I should have b-been a horse trader after all."

"For me, simple things," Philomene decides, claiming her glass back and draining it, before moving to top up all three glasses with what's left in the bottle. Not a whole lot. "A big old chunk of cash would be nice. I've still two daughters who need a hefty dowry to set them up."

"Allow me to make a fairly obvious suggestion," Anghelescu murmurs and looks from one to the other. Duh.

Which is followd by Symon's announcement of, "I really m…must b-be going. At least the b-blood has stopped, so I'm sure the two of you w…will be fine. Enjoy yourselves." He stands and gives a little wave, then puts some money down on the table to cover his share and a bit.

"If your obvious solution is that I ought to murder Lord Symon's mother…" Philomene warns, but then up he gets and she's cut off. "My lord, it's been marvellous to see you. Do be well."

"Enjoy your evening, my lord. It has been a pleasure." The merchant stands as the lord does; there are certain courtesies to be expected from one class to another. Then, as he sits back down he murmurs, "I meant that he wants a bride and you want your daughters wed."

Symon leaves, heading towards the Market Promenade [Out].

Symon has left.

"He's met my middle daughter," Philomene mentions calmly. "And has come to the conclusion that it would not be a good match. Or, more likely, somebody has come to that conclusion for him and told him it's his idea. He's a good lad, and people do take advantage of him. I worry."

Anghelescu steeples his fingers again. "And by someone you mean his mother. I do recognise that pattern. My mother was the same way except that she at least lined up a number of suitably terrified, meek little daughters of lords that she found to be acceptable to her standards. He may need to remove her from the equation, somehow."

"Perhaps, but I don't see him standing up to her any time soon," Philomene reasons, shaking her head. "Laurene would suit him well. She's very sharp when it comes to numbers and managing an estate. She just tends to suffer somewhat in person by taking after me when it comes to being stubborn, and after her father for looks."

"I do not imagine that looks are the issue." The foreigner glances at Philomène. "Or are they? This is Terre d'Ange where everyone is beautiful, I suppose. I would personally value a sharp mind over a good behind any day."

"Everyone is beautiful in their own way," Philomene corrects, "only some of us appeal more to a specific subset. Some like their women tall and skinny. Some prefer a little more meat on the bone, but it's a type that doesn't appeal to everyone. Laurene is… not a picky eater."

"And this is — complicating matters. Because Laurene would not meet the approval of the young lord's mother who no doubt thinks that the appearance of the bride reflects on her, and wants a girl who is conventionally attractive but not too attractive. Am I right?"

Philomène spreads both hands, inclining her head. "And there we have the short of it. Although I'm not certain that part is so much the mother as the young man's friends. She really would tick all the boxes for Lord Symon, and it would be a good marriage for our family. I've taught her everything I know about managing an estate and economic theory, and I'd like to think the state of the Gueret lands since I came to the family ought to speak for something."

"Silliness," Anghelescu murmurs. "And so very familiar, indeed. Ironically, three years ago, I might have considered your Laurene, just from the description. But three years ago, my mother was alive and she would indeed have made the girl's life hell on earth as much as she made mine. Maybe you'll get lucky and the woman drives her carriage off the road and into a gorge."

"Do you know any poor drivers we can send her way?" Philomene suggests with a light smile. "But you've decided not to marry now. Due to your health, or did you really mean it that you wouldn't want a child?"

"Both. No point in marrying when I am probably too sick to sire a child. But also — I would not want to do that to a child. I come from a family with… problems. There's a reason my father had to look this far away to find a woman willing to wed him. I'll tell you about it some day when I'm drunk enough." Anghelescu is working on it though.

Philomène reaches instinctively to her inside pocket for her battered copper flask, glances to the bartender, then thinks better of it. "Well, if we're going to get drunk, let's do it at home where the drinks are already paid for. And then you can tell me all about it." She presses her lips together, sets her jaw, then rises in one slightly awkward movement. When one considers the scars on her back and how little they trouble her, one can only wonder exactly how horrific the scarring on her leg must be that causes, even twenty five years on, the limp, the pain, and the awkward shortening on that side.

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