(1312-03-06) The Sweetbread of Marsilikos
Summary: A new arrival in Marsilikos goes to sample the city's sweets; baked goods and courtesans alike.
RL Date: (1312-03-06)
Related: None
andrei cyrille niobe 

Market Promenade

Two massive promenades, separated by a narrow row of alternating planters and plinths supporting marble statues from all over the known world, make up a marketplace that extends in a narrow space far to the north of the grand plaza to the south. Each walkway is two two-meter marble slabs wide, one gleaming white, the other greyish-blue, and they alternate to and fro in coloration all the way down each promenade, their intersections marked with a series of equal-armed crosses in shimmering black stone. While there is plenty of space for vendors to set up ad-hoc establishments to hawk their wares, to each side of the double promenade are stoa of fluted marble, holding up a terra-cotta tiled roof over a shady, cool walkway, punctuated here and there with doorways and windows open to a long series of indoor shops, each marked with a hanging sign outside the door.

Every twenty meters or so, five stairs lift the level of the promenade as the marketplace works its way uphill, to a smaller plaza at the northern end where all the most exclusive and expensive shops are established. This smaller plaza also has an obelisk of red granite in the middle; it's shorter, and more slender, but when the change in elevation is taken into account, its tip is at the exact same height as the massive obelisk in the town square to the south.

Crowded streets mark the mid day hustle and bustle of an active, lively city. In such a place as this, the market thrives with activity, though politely so, of course. Particularly, while a newly arrived noble of Siovalese descent certainly might draw some attention, the young man is otherwise unharassed by the busy bodies of the streets. Instead, he is allowed the modicum of distance he can be afforded on account of a pair of guards that flank him to help create a bit of a gap.

Presently, Cyrille stands just outside of the bakery, his deep brown eyes scanning into the place for a moment as he leans in, quietly whispering to one of the two guards next to him. "I wouldn't even begin to know what to order, really." He affords one of the guards. "But it all does smell so wonderful, even from just outside…"

One man who has apparently decided on what he wanted, and indeed, acquired it, is a tall, blond fellow in a black coat trimmed in silver fox-fur. Sitting comfortably on a bench outside the bakery he is feeding sparrows with the crumbs of some kind of pastry, instead of eating it, watching the currents of the street, and generally seeming quite content. Given that he is unarmed and alone, though, he is not likely to draw much attention from armed guards.

There's a flash of vivid green among the crowds every now and then, a bright silk scarf worn over an otherwise plain black gown that marks out its owner as clearly as any name badge. Not that the plainness of the gown stops the murmur of approval for the shapeliness of the legs beneath from certain quarters as its wearer weaves her way between traders, eyeing the wares critically and haggling down until she has a modestly full bag of comestibles to take away with her. The bakery is the last stop, and Niobe eases around a pillar and towards the place with a smile on her face that seems to imply she knows more than she's letting on, and a certain anticipatory gleam in her eye for the impending cream cake treat.

Careful blue eyes scan the streets for any would-be-threats to the young Lord, the guard that Cyrille is whispering to perhaps more interested in who is nearer to the Siovalese Lord, than for his troubles on deciding whether or not to enter the shop. "Something sweet, I imgaine?" Suggests the guard, who's attention turns towards the long legs of Niobe first, and then more fully onto her as she moves towards the bakery.

Something nestled within the comment is enough to draw Cyrille's brown eyes towards the guard, and then onto the woman in question. A glance to her, and then down, tracing her form seems to be all it takes for his cheeks to flare a faint red color. His attention shifts quickly back to the window of the bakery. "Yes, but what, exactly? I can't well go inside without having planned my request, Martin."

A crumb to that sparrow over there, a crumb to the one over there. One could imagine that a man on a bench has all day. And if one was a bit paranoid, one might imagine, too, that another pair of sharp blue eyes are studying the guards — and far more observantly, the man they are guarding. Andrei Anghelescu minds his own business, in the manner of someone who knows his life very much may depend on being able to tell one noble peacock from another on very short notice.

Niobe quirks a brow briefly as she spies Andrei, smile widening a little as he feeds the birds. That, at least, gets the Niobe seal of approval. "I'm so sorry," she excuses herself, touching a hand to one of the guard's shoulders, "are you in the queue?" Because what other excuse would three otherwise sensible looking gentlemen have for standing outside a bakery and not going in?

"Would your mother not correct you on that, suggesting that it is no request, but an order you are placing?" Offers the guard now revealed to be Martin, his bright blue eyes flittering off of the woman he was watching a moment ago, and moving about the streets further. If Andrei is of some interest, Martin hasn't seemed to notice him outright. At least, not yet.

"That… Doesn't really help much, now does it?" Cyrille remarks in turn towards Martin, clearing his throat for a moment as he casts a sidelong glance at the guard. It's in his glance however, that his attention falls onto Andrei, a reserved peek that lingers only long enough to acknowledge the man on the bench.

As Niobe places a hand on Martin's shoulder though, his eyes shift to her, and then towards Cyrille expectantly, waiting a full ten, silent seconds for him to speak up. When the timid Lord doesn't offer any immediate words, instead Martin turns back to her and shakes his head. "No, milord here is still deciding what he should like to purchase, I believe."

The man on the bench offers a slight nod to Niobe as she walks past him and their eyes meet. A nod of the sort that someone not of the city's influential circles might offer to someone who is, only the latter has proved themselves on occasion to be quite friendly.

Niobe gives Martin a cheerful smile, gesturing towards the door with slender fingers. "Well, can I recommend to you one of the local specialties, then? Ask for chichis, and ask for a big dollop of cream on the side. And then you'll have something to eat while you think about what you'd like to buy. One of the marvellous things about living in Marsilikos is that there's no reason to eat the same thing twice. So many different foods come in here!"

Those blue eyes do eventually settle on Andrei, Martin narrowing his attention onto the man seated on the bench and watching him carefully for a moment. Even making eye contact, to let Andrei know that he is watching, should Andrei look back in Martin's direction.

Meanwhile, Cyrille offers Niobe a soft smile in kind, bowing his head politely at her. This time, it seems, he'll speak for himself. "That's a wonderful suggestion." He offers, then clears his throat once, as though that might help him to obtain a conversational tone. "This is my first visit to Marilikos, and the books don't really do this place justice." He mentions, giving way to a brief pause as his eyes shift towards the door. "Are you going inside?"

Martin the guard gets himself a somewhat similar nod. Let it not be said that the bloke on the bench is not polite. The sparrows are what occupies most of his attention though — or at least he wants it to seem that way.

"After you, my lord," Niobe responds easily, lifting her bag a little. "I've almost finished what I need for the day, and I think I can wait a little longer to be sure that our Siovalese visitors don't starve to death in the meantime. Books, after all, can't ever describe the taste of something, can they?" she adds, kohl lined eyes catching Cyrille's as though sharing some sort of great secret.

It isn't a harsh glare that Andrei receives by any means, but rather an observant one. Once Martin has decided Andrei isn't aiming to rob or otherwise cause distress to Cyrille, his attention shifts curtly, sweeping out further into the streets.

"No, I suspect not. Not literally. Though, perhaps poetically." Cyrille suggests with a light smile before stepping forward and taking the few steps that are needed to approach and pull the door open. Rather than sweeping inside, however, he holds the door open for Niobe, his lips curled in a smile towards her ever still. "If you're to be my guide though, after you, perhaps?"

Another noble in fine clothing strolls past with his own little entourage of armed guards. Anghelescu watches them with the same kind of quiet intent that Niobe's new acquaintance warranted. Mentally mapping the gentry of Marsilikos? Absolutely.

Niobe laughs easily, flicking her scarf up over her shoulder as she steps forward and through the kindly held door, the tips of the top of her marque just showing in the gap between scarf and where her dress begins at her back, little green shoots and the end of a leaf or two. "I can certainly guide you to a chichi, but I've no idea your tastes, my lord. Are you more of a sweet or a savoury man?"

While Niobe steps forward, Cyrille follows after, holding his hand to the door open still while Martin and the other guard follows in behind the pair of them. The second guard of which, casts an appraising glance over at Andrei, eyeing him down a bit more sharply than Martin did a moment a go.

Perhaps spying the edges of the marque, Cyrille's cheeks flare into a deeper red than before, though as he moves just behind the courtesan, it is possible that the sight of it has gone unnoticed. "Certainly sweet." He offers as he moves inside, and stepping to her side. His trimmed black outfit with a collar of dark grey fur rustling about as he moves. "I'll admit though, I don't recall having tasted one prior."

"Unless you fear I'm going to pick up a sparrow and assault your lord with it, you need not worry about me, friend." Anghelescu addresses the guard who is not Martin with mild amusement — revealing in the process that he's definitely not d'Angeline. That accent is foreign, very foreign.

"Every province has its own take on it," Niobe admits, flashing Andrei a very quick grin before she's inside the shop, "but it's essentially fried dough with a little orange blossom, then covered with sugar. I'm sure Siovale must have something similar, but nothing quite compares with these here, as any Marsilikan will tell you. Are you fond of fish, my lord?" she adds, turning that dazzling smile back to Cyrille.

Unconvinced, the second guard rolls her eyes. "It'd be a sight to see you try, at least." She encourages before stepping more fully into the bakery, so as not to block the door. Both guards move to flank the Lord once again, Martin allowing his gaze to drift down and sweep around Niobe's hips. Though, what exactly he could be looking for is only accentuated by his glance towards her hands.

"Ah, yes. I heard one merchant refer to them as 'fat cakes'." Cyrille murmurs towards Niobe, then he inclines his head in agreement. "Very much so. Salmon with diced tomato and fried in a light drizzle of oil is one of my favorite meals."

Anghelescu gestures at a sparrow. "Come here, you. Be my lethal tool of assassination." Mocking? Well, maybe a little.

"You and I," Niobe pronounces, "could very well become best friends." She nods firmly, turning to the shop clerk only for long enough to make a few small requests before resuming her litany on the wonders of the local cuisine. "You should try the sardines, fried fast in a little oil with plenty of salt so the skin goes crispy, with a quick touch of diced tomato, balsamic vinegar and a few leaves of basil. Or the bouillebasse, oh my word, you need to try the bouillebasse, my lord," she enthuses, reaching to touch the back of his hand, no doubt much to Martin's chagrin.

Almost absently while Niobe places the order, Cyrille reaches into his coin purse and withdraw a few coins and set them on the counter for the clerk. More than enough to cover the requested treats, and a generous tip. As Niobe speaks, his eyes sparkle with delight, lingerly fully on her. "That does sound to be rather delicious." He admits, his smile growing even more as she speaks so enthusiastically about food. A subject to which, seems to touch base well enough with the Siovalese Lord.

The touch to the back of his hand though draws out more of that timid blush, very nearly bringing to mind how a Lord is capable of both holding title, and being so reserved. For Martin's part though, he spies the touch, and takes that as an opportunity to lean in towards the pair. Not quite hindering them, but certainly reminding the courtesan of his presence.

A sparrow hops onto Anghelescu's gloved finger in pursuit of more pastry. Careful, world. Now he really is armed and dangerous. The situation would seem humourous, maybe, if not for the fact that he is soon joined by another man on the bench. That one looks almost exactly like him, except he's a tad more slender, and perhaps a few years younger. The two quickly take to speaking softly in a language few here understand. At one point, the older man upnods towards the bakery, chuckling.

Rather than be intimidated by the guard, Niobe just turns her smile on him, too. "And are you also from Siovale, monsieur?" she asks, happy to chat away as she waits for her order to come together. "You should definitely make sure his lordship lets you have enough time off to enjoy the city, hm?" It's possible she'd next turn on the less chatty guard and give her a similar friendly welcome, but even as she looks over to the woman, the clerk produces a paper bag for her. There's a moment of confusion as payment is waved off, but then the metaphorical penny as well as the literal one drops and she turns back to Cyrille to drop into a neat, elegant curtsey. "Well, thank you, my lord. Very kind of you."

"Yes." Martin offers back towards Niobe, casting a glance towards her, his expression remaining stoic and mostly unreadable. "Typically Lord de Rocaille allows time off when he's trapped himself in his study, or in his bedchambers. So I've no doubt it will come soon enough." He mentions before peeling back just a hint, though his eyes drift back down to Niobe's hand, if it lingers on Cyrille's.

Lord de Rocaille passes a glance back at Martin, his cheeks flaring once again into a faint blush before he clasps his opposing hand over top of Niobe's. "Think nothing of it. A treat for being such a gracious guide." He mentions, casting his own eyes around the room. "Perhaps we should find a table to enjoy them at?"

The slenderer of the two blond men outside takes up position standing next to the older. The physical resemblance between them is obvious; they have to be blood kin. Neither man carries visible weapons; but something about the standing one says try it, I dare you.

"There's a bench outside," Niobe points out helpfully, letting her fingers trail along Cyrille's hand for a moment longer before she withdraws it, flashes a wide smile, and picks up her bag of goodies from the counter. "I saw a friend on it. I'm sure he won't mind if we join him." She gives a little wave, turns on her heel and, well aware of the admiring looks, steps back out into the sunshine with a bit of a swagger to her step.

A few more coins are produced and left on the counter as Cyrille glances towards the clerk and makes his own order of pastries. With a nod of his head towards the second guard, he smiles softly at Niobe and then moves to follow after her. "Perfect." He offers, noteably leaving the female guard behind while Martin trails after the Lord. "Sunshine and sweets."

The two fair haired men on the bench outside appear to be discussing something or other in a language definitely not d'Angeline. One seems relaxed, still with a bird on one finger. The other, coiled like a spring, the wiry sort who never quite lets down his guard.

On exiting the bakery, Niobe gives both blonde men a top to toe look over, raising a brow, then shrugs, reaches into her bag and produces from it a small bread roll. "Here," she offers it to Andrei, already making 'shoo' motions with the other hand for him to budge up the bench a bit so she can sit. And sit she does, crossing those ever so long legs in front of her and drawing far more attention to the bench than Andrei no doubt ever wanted. "This will be better for them," she insists, waving the roll one way and another in front of the foreigner. "Not so much sugar."

While Andrei and his compatriot speak, Cyrille grants them both a gentle smile and an incline of his head. Though with three people already on the bench, he seems to opt to stay standing instead, casting a glance towards the two foreigners. "Not so much for sugar then? Who doesn't love a good sugary treat?"

Just in time too, as the female guard exits the bakery with a baggie of her own, opening and offering the pastries towards Cyrille. The Lord reaches in, withdrawing a chichi coated in a thick layer of sugar and gingerly biting into it.

The younger man draws away, fading into the crowds of the street as if he was never there; a shadow in a current of people. The other man, sparrow still on one finger, scoots to the side to make room. "Lady Niobe," he says politely, inclining his head. "My lord."

Niobe laughs, a bright sound over the general hubbub of the marketplace. "Sugar for people, less for birds," she explains, then adds aside to Andrei quite earnestly, "I got the one with all the seeds on, they'll enjoy those." She looks up at Cyrille expectantly as he tries the doughnut, willing him with eager eyes to like it as much as she'd hoped. "And the verdict?"

No matter how Cyrille might trying, biting down into the sugary treat, it's not quite possible to prevent the spill of white, sticky crystals that fall down onto the front of his collar. The dark grey fur now specked with white sprinkles. All the same, his eyes squint closed with delight, a hum of pleasure sounding out from him as he sinks his teeth into the doughnut, chews, and then swallows. "Absolutely wonderful." He murmurs out, his eyes lidding once again as his lips curl into a pleased grin. Then his attention turns towards the other man, and he dips his head at him. "Lord Cyrille de Rocaille. A pleasure to make your acquintance."

The other man stands and bows as befit to a nobleman from someone who is not. "Andrei Anghelescu at your service, my lord." He settles again, though — which is a bit of a faux pas, technically. Or at least could be taken as one, if one was looking for an excuse to be offended. Calling you out here, Martin.

Niobe doesn't rise, but as Andrei stands, she takes the opportunity to claim more of the bench yet, leaving a space on the other side of her which she pats invitingly, raising a brow at Cyrille. "Join us? And perhaps Monsieur Anghelescu will consent to letting you feed one of his adoring flock, hm?"

One hand comes up, a brief blush on his cheeks as Cyrille spies the sugary mess on his outfit, in a vein attempt to brush away the evidence of his visit to the bakery. Though as a seat is offered to him, he gratefully accepts, slinking down to sit next to Niobe as he peers towards the other man. "Oh, truly? He is master of the flock then? An exceptional title, to be sure."

It's not Martin who gives Andrei the 'stink eye', but rather the second guard, her emerald green eyes glaring sharply at the commoner. Either way, Cyrille's smile is ever lingering, either naive to the undertone about him, or politely ignoring it. "How long have you been in Marsilikos, Lady… Niobe, was it?"

"I believe that the lady is simply teasing me that I have apparently befriended this rather opportunistic sparrow, my lord," Anghelescu murmurs and shakes his hand until the little seed face stuffer indeed buggers off his finger and back to its companions eating bits and pieces of the roll Niobe brought. Then he quirks an eyebrow at the female guard before glancing back at the other two. "But I believe that I am indeed trespassing on your privacy."

"Niobe no Coquelicot," the woman supplies, absently reaching to brush sugar from Cyrille's collar as he sits. "And I'm afraid I'm not a lady, merely a courtesan. I am, however, born and bred right here in Marsilikos, with only one or two brief sojourns to the country since I obtained my marque."

"Certainly not." Cyrille offers in turn towards Andrei, then pauses for a second. "Well, perhaps teasing still. Though from your talent with the feathered beauties, I would be inclined to say you are indeed the master of the flock. This one, at least." He murmurs, his blush increasing while Niobe helps to brush the sugar from his collar.

Two comments however, paired together and Cyrille casts a glance towards the female guard, back towards Niobe, and then finally onto Andrei. His cheeks almost glowing red, and he lightly shakes his head. "Privacy… No, surely not… Indeed I've noticed the spots of her marque, but no such privacy is quite necessary…" He murmurs, his tone slinking into a more demure stance. "I am only just now acquainting himself with her." He offers, peeking back at Niobe as he grants her a soft smile. "It is a wonderful city indeed."

"To each our talents, my lord." the other man murmurs. "Some men bedazzle birds in silk and pearls. And other men, it seems, prove irresistible to small birds."

"A wonderful city," Niobe echoes with an easy smile, leaning back on the bench and extending her arms along the back of it. "Such a proclamation, after just one chichi. You wait until you've tried the fish, too."

"Talent is a relative concept." Cyrille mentions thoughtfully, peering down at the pastry in his hand. "For example, my father would claim that my mother was a wonderful singer. I, on the otherhand, am surprised she has yet to cause my ears to bleed." He murmurs, his lips curled into a pleased smile before he tosses a glance back at Niobe. "What more in life need aside from books and pastries though, I wonder?"

Anghelescu chuckles softly. "Good health, a warm place to sleep, and not too many people who want to place a dagger in your back, my lord." Then he stands and bows slightly towards them both. "I bid you a pleasant day. "I fear that I have business obligations that force me to spend not all of my day fattening up birds."

Niobe lifts one hand in a little wave before turning her full attention back to the lord. "I am a servant of Naamah, my lord. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that there needs to be a place in one's life for love, too. And as a Coquelicot, I'd have to add to that comfort, a good night's sleep and good health. And then," she allows with a flash once again of that dazzling smile, "books and pastries."

"That is an agreeable point." Cyrille offers first towards Niobe, and then affirms towards Andrei with a gentle smile and a nod of his head. "It has been a pleasure to see you, good sir." Then his attention shifts back towards Niobe with a shy smile. "Surely not in that order? Seems that at the very least, books should fall at least a touch higher on the list than that."

The blond man disappears down the current of the street, in a direction similar to that of his companion from a few minutes earlier. Perhaps it's coincidence. Perhaps it's skullduggery. Perhaps it's just fear of being declared a regular provider by many small feathery beggars.

"For a good night's sleep, I'd burn a book in a heartbeat," Niobe admits with a wry smile. "You can't enjoy a book if you're not healthy, can you?"

Leaning back into the bench some, even if it means he might lean against Niobe's outstretched arm, Cyrille casts his gaze out for a moment to the streets around them. "I suppose I'm contrary to that. I've given up many good nights of sleep in trade for the wonders and fantasies secreted away in exceptionally well written books." He counters, his lips curling into a fond smile for the memory. "Though I suppose it depends on how severely your health is violated, and in which ways. I've found that many of my worst nights could be remedied by books that draw my mind away from the world's troubles."

"But," Niobe counters, her hand coming to rest on his shoulder, despite any glaring from the green eyed guard, "after three or four nights with no sleep, a book won't help. But three or four nights without a book wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, would it?"

"Perhaps. In fairness, I haven't dared to try going more than a night or two without a good book to soothe me into a nights sleep." Cyrille remarks, his attention shifting towards Niobe with his lips curling once again into a gentle smile. "I always carry a large cache of books with me, much to the dismay of my guards and servants."

"I'll have to borrow your books some time," Niobe decides, flicking a little grin. "I've never quite seen the attraction of taking one to bed with me." She takes a deep breath, brings her arms in, and begins gathering her bags together once more. "It's been marvellous to meet you, my lord. Sadly I can't stay out enjoying myself all day. I do have duties to attend to, sad to say. Do, however," she urges him as she rises elegantly to her feet, "try the fish."

"Certainly." Cyrille offers with a gentle smile, lifting himself slightly so she may more easily obtain her arm. Then he dips his head towards her. "It's been a pleasure, to be sure." He offers, rising to his feet. "Perhaps we'll run into each other again sometime."

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