(1312-03-04) Death Isn't Particularly Entertaining
Summary: Andrei seeks Niobe’s advice upon a matter somewhat outside her remit. Gamely, she does her best…
RL Date: 04/03/2020
Related: Previous scenes with these characters; especially, D’Angeline Snark-Off.
andrei niobe 

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.

Breakfast time. Or, at least, it would be breakfast time in most respectable houses, time to read the paper, chow down on some toast and slowly approach the land of the living after what has no doubt been a long night for most people, up until all hours enjoying themselves.

In the night court, hours are skewed considerably towards the later, and the last few patrons are being ushered out of the door. Only once the last bright eyed young fellow has left (with, it might be noted, a considerable spring in his step) does Niobe abandon her easy grace and poise and simply flops down onto a pile of cushions, all arms, legs, and a spray of dark hair.

And here comes, with the impeccable timing of a clueless foreigner who doesn't sleep much at night, one Andrei Anghelescu, strolling in unobtrusively, recognisable largely on his blond hair, height, and the usual attire — that black coat trimmed with silver fox-fur and the silver-tipped walking stick is starting to become recognised in some circles.

Granted, those circles largely think 'fop' or 'idiot foreigner', but recognition it is.

The foreigner possesses a certain ability to not draw a whole lot of attention in spite of his flamboyant appearance, and for a while, he simply leans against a column, watching the proceedings, quite content to study these strange people and their even stranger customs.

<FS3> Niobe rolls Perception: Success. (6 1 8 3 6 1 2)

Without even taking the time to exhale and properly relax, the moment Niobe spies movement at the door she straightens her posture, her clothing and her hair, and smoothes her face into that familiar half smile. "Good morning, my lord," she offers after a moment, voice low and mellifluous. "I hope you're well?"

Anghelescu's lip twitches into a small smile. "I am alive, which is good. Well, might be stretching. And your lord I am indeed not, and never have been. How are you doing, my lady healer?"

"Ah, well, if you're not my lord then I'm most certainly not your lady, healer or otherwise," Niobe responds, smile curving wider. "But I think I certainly prefer you alive to the alternative. Do you want to come through, or would you rather a sit down and a drink first? I think there's a kettle just boiled if you'd like tea?"

"Tea actually sounds rather nice," the absolutely not a lord agrees. "As it happens, I am finding myself somewhat wanting to ask a few questions about the city and your customs. Perhaps for once, we might opt for me keeping my shirt on?"

Niobe lifts her chin, that being enough signal to send a novice off to deal with the practicalities, then turns her gaze back on the man and pats the seat beside her. "I shall do my best for you, Anghelescu. Certainly as far as knowledge goes, although I'm not sure I've ever been asked for knowledge while deliberately fully clothed before. What's bothering you?"

A small smirk. "You can kick off your shoes if that makes you feel more professional." Then he shakes his head lightly and settles where directed, resting the walking stick across one black-clad knee. "I need legal advice. More specifically, some understanding of what rights I may have and indeed, not have, as a foreigner to this city. Let's say that somebody … hinted that I might have an accident if something was to happen."

Niobe laughs quietly, shrugs one shoulder, and shakes one ankle just enough to ease off the slipper. That done, she wriggles her toes happily before setting her foot back down on the floor and repeating the same manoeuvre with the other foot. "I am absolutely not a lawyer, let me start out by making that quite clear," she insists, stretching her arms along the couch behind her. "As a general rule, you have the right to walk freely about the city, free from harm to you or your property. But, as with all these things, some incidents are going to be looked into with more alacrity than others, let's not kid on that all men are equal or any nonsense like that."

"No place I have set foot ever convinced me that all men were indeed born equal." Anghelescu smirks slightly at the idea. "Although wishing that you were born better than the next bloke does seem to be a common desire. It was suggested to me in a not particular subtle fashion that here, a foreigner is a foreigner. If a foreigner was to commit a crime of some importance, a foreigner might have to pay with his life. But perhaps it would not matter much to the city which foreigner."

Niobe draws one foot up beneath herself, tilting her head and raising one delicately sculpted brow. "I'm not entirely sure I understand what you're getting at," she admits apologetically. "Are you saying that another foreign gentleman has been involved in something unsavoury and now you're to be blamed for it?"

"Not quite yet. But it was strongly implied that I might be, yes. That as long as some foreigner ends up facing justice, justice is indeed served." Anghelescu steeples his gloved fingers. "Words were spoken in anger, and they may mean little. But I do need to know how much importance to place on them."

Niobe touches the man's shoulder as the tea arrives, directing his attention towards it with a flick of long, manicured fingers. "I think," she deliberates, "that it would probably depend on who did the threatening as to whether you ought to take it seriously or not. If, for example, it was the Lady of Marsilikos, I should leave town rather sooner than later. If it were a ship's boy from the docks, perhaps a little less import might be implied."

"A sergeant of the guard, as it happens. I will admit, neither of us were at our finest. But one should still know one's actual, legal position in such matters." Anghelescu accepts his cup with a polite smile and nod to the servant who delivers it.

"Then I'm afraid for that you really will need a lawyer rather than a courtesan," Niobe apologises. "That is entirely outside my field of knowledge, although I'll admit that I don't think it's a good idea to wind up guards. They do tend to lack a sense of humour. If you want to challenge it, I suspect it'll involve going up the chain to somebody more senior. I, for example, would go to my second, who would take it further if needed, but as the Night Court we have a voice at court. I suspect that you might not..?"

Anghelescu hmms, then nods. "Yes. I suspected that that might be the case. I'll have to keep myself out of sight for a while, I suppose. My own fault — I let my tongue run away with me, forgetting that if a man of a certain age is still merely a sergeant, perhaps wit and deductive thinking is not his forte."

"It's possible," Niobe allows, taking up her tea and cradling it in both hands. "Although I hope your definition of out of sight doesn't involve a musty old cellar somewhere. Take a deep breath in for me just now? I want to see how the sea air and exercises are doing for you."

Anghelescu obediently does so; and while it would be a lie to say that he is well, he's certainly not any worse, either. Healthy? Definitely not. Dying? Maybe not this week. "No, I intend to largely mind my own business. Much as some might think otherwise, I have no designs on Marsilikos, nor any intent of harming the city. But I do not love your city enough to die in order to keep the crowds entertained, either."

"Death isn't particularly entertaining, and it would put a lot of healers' noses out of joint if you decided to die on us now purely out of spite," Niobe points out drily. "It makes us look bad." She takes a sip from her tea, leaning back on the couch with her eyes closed and a slight smile on her lips as she enjoys the taste and the warmth.

"Perhaps, then, if the law does come looking for a scapegoat I shall point out that without me, at least one salon will be looking at diminished profits," Anghelescu notes with some dryness and then a small smile. Then he shakes his head. "I am not particularly worried. Simply looking to know what legal protections I actually have. It seems they are similar to most cities: As many as I can afford."

"We all live under the Lady's protection, and her word is the ultimate law," Niobe points out. "I'm not convinced she's swayed by ducats, though you're welcome to try. You should probably find somebody who can speak for you who knows the law and can argue your case, though. Unless you intend to convince her of your innocence by means of a back rub and an evening in bed, I don't think I'm your woman in this case."

"Who am I to tell what might work on a d'Angeline noblewoman." Anghelescu shakes his head. "I do not have any innocence to prove, nor have I been charged with anything. But it is good to know where I stand the next time some hothead guardsman decides to try to impress a woman by yelling at the nearest foreigner, particularly if that foreigner happens to be me."

"And is it not the same where you come from?" Niobe can't help but wonder, cracking open one eye to look at him. "The guards keep the peace for the nobility, not for us. The nobility, if we're lucky, keep us safe, and if we're unlucky keep us terrified. The guards hold authority and we do not. If you want to be heard, become a guardsman, hm?"

"Oh, of course it is. The guards keep the lord's peace, and they tell the lord what they think he wants to hear. If a few foreigners or commoners get hurt in the process, no great loss." Anghelescu shrugs. "That is why I ask. Some d'Angeline have been very quick to tell me how enlightened and sophisticated your society is, but the rules do in fact seem quite familiar."

"As a general rule," Niobe defends her nation, "Terre D'Ange is more free than most. The divide between great and small, rich and poor isn't insurmountable. I have faith in our nobility to protect those who need and deserve it, and to penalise those who don't. We don't go in for public hangings every week, or executing the heathens for daring to question their particular holy book, unlike some countries. We don't have wild and savage rituals we perform, or mortal combat for entertainment. We live by a tenet of love rather than hatred. I'd call that enlightened."

"You can always find a nation more savage than your own to point at," Anghelescu notes. "Terre d'Ange does not strike me as a terrible hellscape, no. But it does strike me as a country not much different from any other country but for the somewhat more open approach to certain matters. In the end, though, you are still human — mostly — and you still act human — mostly."

Niobe spreads her free hand wide, turning a broad smile on him. "If we weren't human, faults and all, it wouldn't be such a joy to love, would it? Dare I ask what it is you're accused of having done? And should I infer that you have not, in fact, done such a thing?"

Anghelescu waves a gloved hand dismissively. "Oh, murdered a bloke, foreign conspiracy, something something. I suggested from my investigations of this murder I find that a foreigner could probably set this city on fire before the authorities wake up to the idea that foreigners are capable of independent action at all — and the bloke was so busy puffing himself up to impress a noble lady that he thought I was threatening to burn Marsilikos. Clearly he did not actually believe it — I'm not sitting in a dungeon."

"If you do choose to burn the city down, do you think you might warn me first? I'd like to get my birds out before they set on fire, at least," Niobe asks, pausing for a sip from her tea. "But… no, let me get this straight. You took it on yourself to investigate a murder, because you thought the guards incapable of it, and then you said that, outright, to a sergeant?" She laughs delightedly, shaking her head. "My word, no wonder he was riled up. Tell me, Anghelescu, do you also poke hornets' nests for fun?"

"I might at that. But no. I investigated it to protect my own interests. Then I tried to alert the guard to my findings. The guard was not impressed, presumably because the effort of said guard seems to involve saying 'bah, foreigners are gonna foreign' and leaving it at that."

"Or," Niobe counters, "he was unimpressed because you insinuated, in front of a noble lady he was trying to chat up, that he can't do his job?"

"Very likely. But there's one lesson to be learned from that." The Carpathian sips his tea. "Next time he wants to demand answers from somebody, maybe he should take them aside in case the answers he demands are not answers that he likes."

Niobe thinks for a moment, brows drawing together. "So… he was asking questions? And not just saying 'foreigners gonna foreign'? Doesn't that sort of imply that he's taking an interest in the investigation? I'm not sure you can have it both ways. Was he asking or not?"

A small twitch of a lip betrays Anghelescu's wry humour at the situation. "He asked at first because he wanted to impress the lady. He did not like the answer I gave him. He demanded more answers. He certainly did not like those. A man who wants to look competent should take care to not force answers he does not want. Either way, what matters to me is the knowledge of where I stand — which will be rather far from anyone with a sword and the authority to use it if they don't like my face."

"And I don't believe for one moment that you came in here today because you wanted to be questioned further," Niobe admits, leaning forward to set her cup down. "So I apologise. And this is why everyone breathed a sigh of relief when I turned down the Second position here," she adds with a small, self deprecating smile. "How have you been sleeping?"

The Carpathian chuckles. "I do realise that when I ask a question, I may have to answer some in order to get the answer that I want. And that indeed, I may not like the answer, but that does not make it a wrong answer. I sleep — better. Whatever it was you did to me did help. Torture as it was, it did."

"What I did was only temporary," Niobe warns. "You'll need to keep up your exercises, and use the oil any time you feel your chest tighten. All I've done is given your lungs a bit more space to do their job, but they're still going to struggle. That part I'm afraid I have no say over. Imagine your lungs are a sponge, and the air we want to get into them is water from a pipe. We can make the pipe bigger, take away any obstructions in the pipe, and give the sponge space to expand, but we can't make the sponge any bigger, and the damage to your lungs means that they'll always work less efficiently than normal. They'll always be that smaller sponge. So we need to make sure we give them the best chance we can by keeping that pipe scrupulously clean, and that's where the oil and the exercises, and the sessions here with me come in."

"Torturous as they may be, I am no fool. Or at least I am not the kind of fool who thinks that he will miraculously heal from one treatment." Anghelescu smiles at the dark-haired woman. "I believe that I understand your analogy. The key for me there will be doing as you say, and avoiding straining the plumbing hard enough that the sponge drowns in blood instead of being able to do its work, yes."

Niobe flicks a slight smile. "Well, if it's full of blood, it can't take in any air, and you'd drown. So let's try to avoid that particular scenario if we can. Continue to take it easy. Mild exercise to keep the pipes open, but not enough to set it bleeding. And if you came to me because you wanted somebody to sympathise and cuddle you, you should have mentioned it. I thought you came to me because I can help."

Anghelescu quirks an eyebrow. "Sympathy and cuddles? I don't recall asking for either of those. Although I suppose I should have been clearer up front that tonight, I was looking for the unbiased advice of someone more familiar with the city than myself. If the rate for advice is different, please do let me know:"

"I don't think I can charge you for my advice, only my company," Niobe points out, extending her hand to take in the surroundings. "I'm sheltered in here from much of what goes on in the city. I've never had to deal with the law, so I'm only guessing at best. Joint pain, or herbs, or birds and then I'm most definitely your girl, but legal matters?" She shrugs.

Anghelescu shrugs too. "You answered my question, though. I know what I need to know now." That's not at all ominous. Or maybe he's just learned to keep his aristocratic nose to himself. Sounds likely, doesn't it?

"Or at least you know what I know, which isn't a lot," Niobe reasons, putting a hand to her mouth to do her best to cover a yawn. "I'm sorry, it's been rather a long night. Would you object hugely if I asked you to come back this evening for an appointment? I don't think I'd be on top form right now until I've had a little sleep."

"I think that would in fact suit me very well." Anghelescu returns his teacup to the table and stands. "You are very kind, my lady who is not a lady. I think I may come to depend on you for my health quite a bit."

"As long as you don't depend on me for legal advice, I think that will work out just fine," Niobe insists with a lopsided smile as she, too, rises to her feet in order to see the man out. "Try not to set the town on fire in the meantime?"

"Well, what fun are you," the Carpathian mock grouses before making a small bow on his way out. At least he's got manners, for a foreigner.

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