(1312-03-17) Oil and Water
Summary: The trouble with trying to slip into the temple baths for a quiet soak when they’re not too busy, is that the same scheme always seems to occur to others as well… and some people just don’t mix.
RL Date: 17/03/2020
Related: Nothing in particular.
andrei cyrille emilie philomene ysabelet 

Temple Baths — Temple of Naamah

A large circular window of colorful stained-glass depicting Naamah is framed by two crescent shaped ones, sitting further up the wall as to allow for generous lighting during the day, with the shades of the glass used in the center painting the interior of the Temple Baths in colorful hues. The light beige tiles of the stone floor are arranged in a pattern, spaces between filled with darker shade mosaic stones. The changing area is divided into two spaces, hidden away behind semi-opaque drapes. Here, visitors can leave their clothing and move over towards the pools that are filled with the warm waters of a hot well, a faint layer of steam lingering occasionally in the air directly above the waterline. A larger pool of white marble is in the center, between two smaller pools that offer room enough for two or three people each. At the edge of the pools, trays are provided at regular intervals, some holding various flagons of bathing oils while others hold bars of flowery soap and other bath implements.

Acolytes of Naamah, clad in the red flowing robes of the temple stand at the ready, to provide towels or robes when needed and make sure a peaceful atmosphere is maintained within the baths.

Baths are good. A man can maintain a certain standard of hygiene with a bucket of water and a bar of soap, naturally, but for a man who was born in a country of thermal springs and natural baths that would make Tiberians cry with envy, buckets don't quite… cut it. Andrei Anghelescu has started to make a habit of claiming the quiet hours in the temple baths even if he does not follow the faith; it's quiet and it's clean.

This is why the tall, thin Carpathian lies nose deep in soap suds in one of those basins, eyes closed, and clearly enjoying a quiet moment. Only every once in a while does he reach out to sip from a glass of something golden balancing on the basin's edge.

It doesn't matter how shy Cyrille may be, he does need to clean himself, and it's not something he could comfortably abandon for the sake of… Well, comfort. Which is how he finds himself this morning, stepping into the Temple Baths with already blushing cheeks as he finds a place to disrobe and store his clothes. Once undressed, he moves forward, into the place, and spying the upper part of a familiar face.

For a moment, he lingers there, nude and distant from the pool as though considering whether to approach. Lingering enough that he perhaps is causing a bit of a road block for others to get to the pool, or other pools nearby.

It certainly won't be the first time for Ysabelet to visit the Temple of Naamah, even if these novices are said not to leave the shelter of their salons often. This one has, apparently, on this wonderful day, and she is not on her own. Trailing behind her is the pleasant view of a fully marqued Glycine courtesan, the chaperone a woman in her mid-twenties. Some of the mischief in the chaperone's eyes is mirrored in a more subtle way in the glitter of Ysabelet's gaze. She wears her blonde hair open, and it shimmers golden in the light that filters in through the windows. Ysa looks so much younger than her companion, and yet she moves with confidence. There is a pause, as she half-turns to assure herself of Brigitte's presence, there are even a few hushed murmured words uttered in question towards the chaperone. Which are met with an encouraging smile and a nod. And a gesture, towards the changing area.

Ysabelet lets her gaze drift, and she does note that they are not alone. Encouragement perhaps, to cross the distance towards the paravents in a graceful stroll, knowing that people might look her way. Her chaperone follows along, and probably assists Ysa with changing into a bathing dress. When they reemerge, Ysabelet at least wears one of those bathing robes, to ensure modesty befitting a novice. Whereas Brigitte has wrapped a towel about her exquisitely attractive shape and follows a long, pausing indeed then, at the lingering Cyrille. "Hello there," the chaperone greets the blushing lord and gives him a brief assessing look. Ysabelet comes to a halt as well, giving Cyrille an amiable smile, carefully keeping her look focused on his face. "Good day, my lord," the novice greets, and yes, her voice might sound a bit shy.

In the basin, the Carpathian cracks one blue eye open at the sound of voices, and then another. He inches up just as far as he absolutely has to in order to be able to speak without drinking the bathwater. "You're probably attracting more attention standing there than from getting in, my lord." His is a soft voice, well modulated and possessed of an obvious, foreign accent. Northern, maybe eastern, but definitely not of Terre d'Ange.

For Ysabelet's arrival, Cyrille peeks over towards the novice, and quickly clears his throat. "Good day, madame." He greets softly, dipping his head towards her and then peeking over at Andrei, giving him a soft smile and nodding his head. Without a word further, he steps forward, sinking into the bath opposite of Andrei, and leaning back to lounge in the water.

Brigitte smiles at the greeting, but she waits until Cyrille has settled himself in the pool, before she nudges Ysa gently to join them. The pool is after all big enough to hold six or more people. The novice seems to hesitate, but even a glance to other, currently vacant pools does not keep her from finally slipping into the water where Cyrille and Andrei already are soaking. "I hope you don't mind…", is offered in polite inquiry, and she gives each of the gentlemen a smile. In a matter of a second or two, she has gathered the wealth of her long hair and twirled it into a knot to keep it from getting wet. "I am Ysabelet, and this here is Brigitte nó Glycine. She is tasked to look after my safety."

"You're certainly safe from me, mademoiselle," the foreigner murmurs and for a moment, his blue eyes sparkle with silent amusement over some joke that he apparently does not see any need to share. "And I at least do not mind in the slightest. If I wanted a bath entirely to myself I imagine that the proper thing to do would be living somewhere that has a bath tub."

Once Ysabelet has joined them in the bath, Cyrille peeking away to give her her modesty, even to spite her robe, as she slips into the water. Then he casts a soft smile towards her, nodding his head in her direction. "Not in the least bit." He peeks over at Brigitte, granting a nod towards her too.

"Am I?" Ysabelet lifts her chin a little, as she meets Andrei's gaze with her own. And she smiles, it is an expression that lights up her features, shaking her head a little, perhaps at herself, perhaps at his comment. "I am yet to debut, monsieur. So Brigitte makes sure, I'm safe from everyone." Her blue eyes look towards Cyrille then, and she nods her head at his permission. Brigitte discards her towel and slips into the water beside Ysabelet, and both men will be able to glimpse quite a bit of tempting skin and flesh, even if the marque on the woman's back does not come fully into view.

"As safe as you can be, indeed." The foreigner closes his eyes again, seeming to simply enjoy the warmth of the water enveloping his body. "Andrei Anghelescu, at your service, mademoiselles. I'll let the young lord introduce himself lest I get it wrong. D'Angeline titles and houses are still a puzzle that I am trying to work out." He opens his eyes briefly enough to nod his greeting at the older woman as well; though merely a chaperone she might be, she's still there.

"It's always good to keep your escorts close at hand. I leave mine just outside, when in certain places." Cyrille murmurs towards Ysabelet. As introductions are being made, he smiles softly, and inclines his head. "Lord Cyrille de Rocaille. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, madame." He offers, and then peeks over towards Andrei. "Oh, I would not be offended for misusing my title. I expect it for you, being still unfamiliar with our culture." With that explained, he happens to look back at Ysabelet, just as her flesh is made to be seen, a blush flaring through his cheeks as he quickly looks away.

"Lord Cyrille, I am pleased to make your acquaintance," says the novice, her voice kept at a low volume but still showing off a certain melodic quality. Her reply goes along with a downwards flit of her gaze, and there is curiosity in those blue eyes as they lift and behold that rare blush on d'Angeline cheeks. "My lord, are you alright?" Her gaze flicks to Brigitte beside her who wears decidedly less than she at the moment. Even if the bathing dress floats about her below the waterline, and tends to cling to her young feminine shape above. She looks at him for another moment, considering, and then Ysabelet turns her attention to the foreigner. "Andrei Anghelescu," she tries to repeat his name in the same manner he pronounced, but this attempt of her still showing enough d'Angeline accent to not quite match his introduction. "You are a visitor from abroad, but from where? Your name has an odd ring to me, but so might my own name sound odd to you as well."

“I am from the Chowat, mademoiselle." A region a tad north and quite a few tads east of Terre d'Ange, bordering Skaldia on one side and Ephesos on the other. He casts an amused glance to the young lord and his obvious discomfort but apparently decides against ribbing the other man about it. "I am given to understand that visitors to Marsilikos are common but perhaps not from quite so far away. That said, I cannot recall ever meeting d'Angeline travellers at home, either."

"Oh yes, quite alright." Cyrille murmurs shyly, peeking back towards Ysabelet, and giving her a soft smile. Then his attention shifts towards Andrei as the conversation turns towards him. "I would like to visit your home some time, but I have business to attent to here. Most particularly, I would be very interested to visit the libraries of your home."

"Ah. Chowat." Any educated novice should have at least a vague idea of geographics, and so Ysabelet graces Andrei with a smile. "You are the first Chowatti I have ever met," she declares, "but then again, I haven't met that many foreigners at my salon yet; apart from… my Caerdicci teacher, that is. Salvatore Emiliano Tariotti." She turns her gaze towards Cyrille, observing his exchange with the foreign gentleman. "You are interested in books?", she observes.

"The libraries of the Chowat rarely compare with the collections of the d'Angeline universities," Anghelescu admits. "We are a patchwork of countries usually feuding with each other, and when we do stop feuding it's because Skaldia or Ephesos are invading — again. I suspect ours is a more martial nature. I do pride myself in my collection of books and manuscripts, but I suspect that you might not find it quite so impressive, my lord."

"It is not how impressive your libraries are, but rather the fact that the books you have will be different than the books here, or in my home." Cyrille counters towards Andrei with a soft roll of his shoulder. Then he smiles shyly back towards Ysabelet and nods his head. "Very. I am Siovalese by birth, and literature is… In our blood, I would say."

"I've read two or three Caerdicci books," Ysabelet claims, shifting a little so sink a bit deeper in the alluring warmth of the water, immersing her shoulders fully while keeping her chin lifted. "I think you can learn a lot about the culture of a people through their literature, be they tomes about their history or… novels and poems." Straightening a little, her shoulders come out of the water, the dress clinging, and the skin at her collarbone moistened. "They view our kind less favorably, in the city states of Caerdicca Unitas. Pray tell, Monsieur Anghelescu, what do your people think of Servants of Naamah?" The question is posed lightly, but not without confidence, with the ghost of a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

A lopsided and rather wry smile graces the older man's thin lips. "You may find that our views of a nation of decadent heathens are perhaps not so flattering, mademoiselle. I tend to avoid this subject in conversation — a wise man does not insult his host."

"It is good to keep yourself well read." Cyrille affirms with a soft smile, slinking into the water himself and laying his head back a touch. He peeks at Ysabelet, blushing more, and then peeks back at Adnrei with a soft chuckle. "I would not presume your opinion to be the only opinion to be found in your homeland. It would be curious, however, if you maintained your view point even after having been in our land for as long as you have been."

Ysabelet seems hardly surprised by Andrei's reply, on the contrary, the smile remains on her features as she considers the foreigner for a moment. "And yet you are here, in Naamah's Temple, not fleeing a pool that has been claimed by two in Her service," she counters softly and not without irony. "I wager, this town may already have you reconsider some of your foreign opinions. How are your views on cards and dice, and gambling in general?"

Again, there is a blush distracting her, and Ysabelet regards Cyrille with curious fascination. "What about you, my lord? Have you ever tried playing cards? Or do you prefer your books to any other diversions?"

"I am not much of a gambling man myself but I have no quarrel with it. I will cede that not all of the d'Angeline customs are quite as horrifically decadent as stories make them out to be." The Carpathian smiles slightly. "I will also maintain that as a nation, you have a formidable fighting force, and I will admit that if not for Terre d'Ange, the Chowat would likely be speaking Skaldi today."

"Is anything ever so horrific as it is made out to be?" Cyrille muses towards Andrei. Then he peeks back at Ysabelet and shakes his head lightly. "I don't gamble often, no. Books are my most favored passtimes. Often times, my guards complain to me that they wish to be out, rather than cooped up, guarding a library."

Ysabelet lifts one of her hands out of the water, as if to demonstrate the nimble play of her fingers. "Cards and dice are my forté, my lords," she declares with the hint of a wink. "And if you are not opposed to such, I can only encourage you to come and visit the gambling room of La Glycine. You will find little fighting there, mind you. Unless we have a wrestling match staged, open for betting and somesuch." A light chuckle ripples from her lips when she hears Cyrille's counter. "I have heard worse, than being called a library. At least you are knowledgeable, and that can only be of advantage, I would think."

"I have yet to visit the salons as such," Anghelescu murmurs. "I found the Coquelicot early on during my stay — I came to Marsilikos to find a skilled healer, and that is what they offer, after all. La Glycine is a house of gambling, then?"

"I'll admit, I can't imagine wrestling would particularly be an experience I'd prefer?" Cyrille murmurs, sounding particularly uncertain over his words. Then he smiles softly and nods his head. "I would not count myself knowledgeable, per se. Though, I am always pursuing knowledge."

"La Glycine is a house of gambling, pleasure and fun in general," Ysabelet tells Andrei with a confident upturn of lips. "You will find there combined the canons of Jasmine, Orchis and Bryony. I have been trained in the way of the latter canon. And yet, there can be pleasure in tempting others into pursuing their luck. As for our wrestlers, these would be Jasmine or Orchis," she asides to Cyrille. "I for my part am by no means strong nor enduring enough to engage in such a match!"

"And what, pray tell, are the canons of Jasmine, Orchis, and Bryony, I wonder." Anghelescu smiles his little smile; foreigners gonna foreign. "The salons, at least, are one way in which your culture differs greatly from mine. You will find a cathouse in any town that has soldiers, but this — is unique to the d'Angeline."

"I… Suppose it wouldn't be fair to ignore viewing such an event, at the very least." Cyrille decides twoards Ysabelet, his lips curling into a soft smile. At the mention of the canons though, he quiets, and allows the courtesan novice the chance to explain them.

A chilly blast of cool air swirls across the pools, dislodging a little of the gathered steam from the warm water. One might assume a door has opened, or, by looking up and seeing the entrance of a tall, upright blonde woman with a distinctive brown riding jacket and an even more distinctive limp, one might equally well assume that it's some sort of chill aura that Philomène brings with her. Her gaze, as it flicks across the various pools, certain holds very little warmth.

She makes her way over to the benches to one side, methodically stripping out of jacket and cravat before lowering herself with a curiously fixed, blank expression, to the seat where she can continue by peeling out of those peculiarly mismatched riding boots, her pale silk shirt, and finally the dark breeches. When she moves to stand again (again with that sudden blanking of all expression), the reason for the limp becomes all too apparent. Philomène d'Aiglemort de Chalasse has more than a simple, glorious scar to show for her time fighting, but instead a twisted, purple and white mass of gnarled flesh where the top of her left thigh ought to be. Even twenty years on, it (rather like Philomène herself) looks defiant and angry, and it's clear that the injury is of enough severity to have not only twisted the entire leg but also shortened it, hence the need for her rather specialist boots.

If you thought her limp was bad before, it's nothing to the sweep, clomp, drag of her peculiar gait as she makes her way, proud and naked even in her advancing years, to the pool containing the courtesans, lordling and foreigner. She doesn't ask, just lowers herself in like she owns the place, and only once settled completely gives a gruff greeting. "Morning."

"When Naamah gave herself to King Persis to free Blessed Elua," Ysabelet intones, "it was for desire and pleasure's sake only. That is what Jasmine canon is about, so you will be certainly able to guess the nature of the games they enjoy. Orchis canon," her gaze flicks towards Cyrille, "claims that Naamah won King Persis over with mirth and laughter. Expect jests, and some will be of the cruder sort. Bryony," Ysabelet pauses, leaning a little back to rest her head against the edge of the pool, "Bryony canon claim that Naamah won Blessed Elua his freedom through cunning and wager. And gamble." A slight nudge comes from Brigitte, and the chaperone turns to regard the new arrival, thus facing away from the pool and granting a view of the art on her back, perhaps not intentionally. There is space enough for another to join, and so Brigitte shifts far enough to the side to provide as much to Philomène as she slips into the water.

"Lady Philomène," the Carpathian greets the new arrival with a nod. "Mademoiselle Ysabelet was just explaining the canons of La Glycine to us. Or, I suppose, to me — Lord Cyrille probably knows them well enough to not need such education."

Another comes to join them, and this time, as Cyrille peeks over at Philomène for her arrival… Blushing as he might, it takes him a moment to look away from her. More particularly, his eyes trace over the scar on her leg. As she arrives nearer though, he quickly peeks away, blushing more fully. "Good morning." He murmurs, his tone held low before he returns his attention onto her, once she is fully in the water. "I don't believe we've met. I am Lord Cyrille de Rocaille." Though he peeks back at Andrei, smiling softly and nodding his head in affirmation. "I know of them, yes. Though it is always good to hear anothers words on a subject you know well. Sometimes it can bring forth new understandings of them."

"We haven't met," Philomène agrees, leaning back and closing her eyes so she can enjoy the warm water. "Let's just consider that Elua has blessed you thus far, young man, and you may simply thank your lucky stars for your escape until now. Monsieur Anghelescu," she adds as a curt greeting to the foreigner. "Yes, yes, yet another salon of courtesans. It's a wonder this country eats. You'd think one day you'd come across a farmer, or a smith, or a cooper in here, but no. It's nothing but courtesans as far as the eye can see." She pauses, then relents, "Or young, wide eyed noblemen coming to spend their generous allowances on courtesans."

"My lady." Ysabelet straightens and inclines her head respectfully to Philomène. Brigitte too, turns far enough to give a nod of her own to the dowager vicomtesse. "My lord… I wonder which new insights you are gaining from my explanation…" Ysabelet regards Cyrille with a faintly flirtatious smile. There is only a slight roll of her eyes as she lowers her gaze at Philomène's statement. "Why, my lady? Does our presence offend you? When we are at Naamah's Temple, and Brigitte and I, her humble servants?"

"I am fairly certain that I do in fact not qualify neither as a courtesan nor as a young, wide eyed nobleman." Anghelescu looks quite amused at the older woman's grousing. "I'll have you know that I have in fact approached a lady of the… what was it again… The one that isn't Rose Sauvage but next door."

"I would disagree, madame." Cyrille murmurs back towards Philomène. "Even if you are crueler than the Thorns, or more boring and dry than anyone I've yet to meet, there is still stories in you to hear. Experiences to discover." He muses, then blushes a bit at the comment about him spending his allowance on courtesans. He looks about to say something, his lips parting before they close again, blushing more deeply.

Philomène cracks open one eye so she can fix it balefully on Ysabelet. "Mademoiselle, I object to your quantity, not your work. If I had as many courtesans as there are in Marsilikos and they instead worked to grow wheat or raise pigs, nobody should ever go hungry again. Feeding the spirit is all very well, but I prioritise feeding the body. And," she adds towards Cyrille without missing a beat, "of course you disagree. You're a Rocaille. It's what you do best." She sniffs once, takes a breath, then turns to Andrei with considerably less disdain and more dry amusement. "Next door to the Rose? Lady Shahrizai's house, then. Well, you won't find a better healer, it's true. Good. Mind yourself with her. If you thought I was blunt, you've got a shock coming with her."

"There are even more of our kind in the fair city of Elua," Ysabelet replies to Philomène. "Thirteen Houses, and each grand and highly regarded. Here in Marsilikos, there are only a few salons. Never would I have thought someone could consider our number to be intimidating." At which the novice falls silent and glances towards Cyrille and Andrei. Brigitte turns fully now and lower äs herself deeper into the water as not to cause any more blushes. She considers the lady with a wry smile but stays silent for now.

"Must be the other door. The lady I made arrangements with is a Camellia, not a Lady Shahrizai." Anghelescu sounds … disinterested? Not quite excited enough? Or maybe he just has adapted enough already to d'Angeline customs that he mentally compares renting some salon girl to purchasing a few hours' worth of time from one of the less elevated ladies in one of the harbourfront establishments.

While Philomène counters his statement, Cyrille snickers with amusement, nodding his head at her. "Yes, that is true." He murmurs, apparently tickled at being called out in that way. "I hope you understand I mean no offense." Though he pauses, giving time enough to listen to the full weight of what she has to say. "Still, your blunt words have proven to aid in satisfying the nature of my visit here." He peeks towards Ysabelet, pausing to consider her for a moment, then he chews on his lower lip. "Would you disagree, though?" He muses towards her. "I've read once, my mother's report of the sick and starving in our home. The numbers were… Offensive to say the least. Imagine being able to feed and care for all of those people, filling all of the needs of a person."

"I can't say I'm often accused of being intimidated," Philomène muses, and, having decided that's quite long enough to simply lounge around, begins to efficiently splash water to her face to begin to scrub it. That's enough to keep her quiet for a few seconds at least, but when she moves to cupping water to begin soaking her hair it sadly leaves her mouth free to continue. "Well, Monsieur Anghelescu, I'm pleased you're entering into the spirit of the thing. At the very least it'll provide an economic stimulus for the city. Foreigners bringing their money into Terre D'Ange is one of the few things I will approve of."

"There are more capable farmers in the province of l'Agnace," Ysabelet muses, "such as in the vicomté de Gueret… Believe me, my lady, I would make a poor herder of pigs, when my talents lay elsewhere. There is purpose in the order of things, those with the blood of angels flowing in their veins are entitled to pleasant company and entertainment, and it is only fair to honor the example of Naamah and her deed…" A low chuckle there. "I try to inspire certain reactions, but feeling intimidated is certainly not one of them."

Anghelescu sends Philomène a look that speaks volumes. Unfortunately it doesn't come with subtitles and thus, perhaps, is a little wasted. It's obvious that he has Opinions on the idea of 'getting into the spirit of things'. Aloud, though, he just says, "I am quite certain that I am already contributing to your otherwise already excellent economy. I am somewhat contemplating finding a more permanent residence than my inn room, though — given that I seem to have made up my mind to not die this month anyhow. Now I just need to decide on what sort of lodgings I should indeed be looking for."

Ysabelet's comment gives the foreigner pause, though, and he looks at her. "I suppose it is fortunate for they of angel blood that the society that feeds them has a need for their… services… Are you implying, mademoiselle, that if you could not entice gentlemen to your bed, that you would have to starve?"

Apparently, the conversation with Philomène has captured a good part of Cyrille's attention, his gaze lingering on her as she dives to begin washing her face. Then his attention shifts back to Andrei and Ysabelet, listening to them both silently.

At Andrei's decision not to immediately die, Philomène exhales as though this is a great tragedy for all. "I shall continue to pray, Monsieur Anghelescu. I am relying on featuring prominently in your last will and testament, after all, and there are shoes and handbags that won't buy themselves. A courteous man would at least have the good manners to drown gracefully," she insists drily, but there's enough of a hint of amusement there that it's possible, possible, that she doesn't utterly abhor this particular foreigner. "Well, if you're looking to buy a house, you could do worse than look along the Rue de Port. Although that puts you intolerably close to me. We shall have to arrange some sort of signal so I don't have to step out of my house and see your face when I head out to walk or ride. Mademoiselle," she adds towards either Ysabelet or Brigitte, or maybe both - it's hard to tell when she's busier washing herself down than maintaining eye contact, "I shouldn't waste your time arguing with me. I'll only enjoy it. Talk these two gentlemen into bidding for your debut instead." Right. Probably Ysabelet, then. "Let them honour Naamah, and let them slip a little more cash into the economy at the same time. I imagine there will be a certain amount of slipping things in all over the place, but frankly the economy is the part I'm most concerned about."

"I certainly wouldn't starve," Ysabelet contradicts Andrei softly. "But it is idle talk to discuss what could be, if I weren't what I was raised to be. For now…", the novice looks towards the lady, "I shall heed your advice. My debut may be some weeks away, still… I would be pleased to see you at the salon for that special occasion." This is said as she nods towards Brigitte, and both of them move to climb out of the pool. Nevermind that this will expose the view of tempting flesh, one naked and the other with a drenched bathing gown clinging to her shape. "But for now, pray excuse us. I shall look forward to see you again soon…"

The Carpathian nods at the courtesan. "Then I wish you a pleasant evening elsewhere, mademoiselle."laughs softly and sips the glass of white whine he is still nursing before returning it to the basin's edge. "The Rue de Port, hmm. I might consider it, just to for the pleasure of adding to your ulcer, Lady Philomène." He cants his head slightly at the remarks about the courtesan's eventual debut and the idea of bidding for it, frowning slightly as he asks, "Are you telling me that this debut is an — auction? Is that not a little… demeaning?"

At the suggestion that Cyrille should bid on Ysabelet, and then the added mention of slipping things in places, the Lord's cheeks flare into a deep blush, and he peeks away. His lips part as though to provide a protesting statement, and then close again before he clears his throat. While Ysabelet rises from the water, with Brigette, he waits until they are both free from the water and then passes them a shy wave. "Enjoy the rest of your day, madame." He offers, and then peeks back twoards Philomène. "Are you particularly familiar with property here in Marsilikos then? I may need to purchase property here myself."

Philomène pauses in her methodical scrubbing down of a body that, while still in good shape, bears the scars and marks of over fifty years, three children, and a lot of frantic fighting on the border of Skaldia. "You're a Rocaille," she points out blandly to the young nobleman. "Stay in the Rocaille house. It's what it's there for. And as for bidding… no. Why would demonstrating your opinion of the worth of somebody's time be demeaning? What would be demeaning would be insisting that their time is only worth a smile and a pat on the head. Which seems to be the case outside of Terre d'Ange when it comes to women, no?"

Anghelescu's blue eyes sparkle with amusement; one could get the impression that on some level he finds Philomène's attempts to bait him quite amusing. "Outside of Terre d'Ange there are no such things as salons, my lady. I still find the concept confusing and in some fashions quite disturbing. But as I am wont to say, when in Tiberium, do as the Tiberians do. I am not judging. I am asking."

"Is a courtesans worth decided by how much coin they earn?" Cyrille muses, then blushes a bit as he slinks further into the water. His head rolls back, looking up at the ceiling of the Temple Baths. As those scars and marks are displayed though, he peeks for a moment, and then looks back up. "I have found that asking is just as dangerous as judging, as it implies judgement, especially if you don't ask correctly."

"A courtesan's worth, like any woman, is for her to decide," Philomène counters, face taking on the oddly expressionless facade once again as she stops speaking long enough to pay attention to cleaning her legs. Only when she moves to lift the right one and work her way down to the knee does any animation return to it. "I count my own worth, for example, in the battles we've won and the legacy of my family name. Some measure their worth in the jewellery bought for them, or poetry written, or how much suffering they've alleviated. Coin, however, is a rather universal way to show your respect. And," she adds more practically, "you can use it to buy good bacon."

"Oh, no, Lady Philomène will judge me regardless of how I phrase my questions," the Carpathian notes with a small grin to the Siovalese lord. "I am but a miserable foreigner, after all. But when she is indeed done reminding me of my national inferiority, she does tend to provide me with the answers that I desire. And sometimes, with a good glass of wine to boot."

"I find that anyone's worth is determined by how they define their value." Cyrille expresses, then he nods his head. "Otherwise, I agree wholly. I count my worth by the amount of books I've read. Though, no one is quite paying me to do that, unfortunately." He murmurs with an amused grin on his lips, and then he peeks over at Andrei. "Probably. Even still, however, I'm sure you've had more than one occasion, as I have, and many others have, where you've asked a question in a way you did not intend to."

"Mostly it's a shit glass of wine," Philomène corrects Andrei absently as she scrubs away. "Good whisky, shit wine. "And read all the books you like, young man, but judge yourself on what you've actually learned from them, not how many pages there were."

"Men measure themselves by many means. I've known many who count their worth in the amount of coin they amass or the enemies they have slain. Books read seems as sensible a measurement as any." Anghelescu finishes his wine and shoves the glass off the basin edge, safely away from accidentally falling into the pool.

Watch out, innocent bathers of Marsilikos— Émilie Perigeux nó Lis d'Or is padding into your midst upon pedicured bare feet, her skin fresh-scrubbed and glowing in the perpetual warmth of Naamah's baths, her dark strawberry-blonde hair pinned high and her towel about to come off. Avert your gaze, please do, from that flawless feminine shape and those meticulously inked pale pink camellia blossoms, or like the King of Persis you may go blind for a fortnight… When she finds her usual pool tenanted by patrons of her own salon, she almost reverses straight back out again; but she has been spotted, surely, and so she lifts her chin and drops her towel and steps down nonchalantly into the water somewhere betwixt Andrei and Cyrille. Aphrodite in reverse. "My lords, good day to you," she murmurs courteously, meeting each man's eyes for a fleeting instant as she inclines her head to him.

"That is a fair point." Cyrille offers towards Philomène as he slouches into the pool. He nods his head towards Andrei, giving him a soft smile. "Thank you." As Émilie arrives though, he peeks towards her, and blushes more, looking away just in time to miss the reveal of the Second's form. "A pleasure to see you as well, madame." He offers shyly, then blushes more deeply. Perhaps not the best choice of words.

"Is there something wrong with your skin, young man?" Philomène calls Cyrille out, eyeing him suspiciously. "Whatever it is you've been eating, you should probably stop it. No man in all the world should ever turn red as often as you seem to. Is it the soap, perhaps? Something in the water?"

"Mademoiselle Second." Anghelescu inclines his head in respect to the courtesan. "An unexpected pleasure, and it seems, one that is quite overwhelming to some. I trust that you are well?"

Yes, to be seen (gawped at) is Émilie's ineluctable fate, to which she was destined the moment her scion father lay down with her courtesan mother. When Andrei speaks she turns the lovely oval of her face toward him again; and where her shoulders rise rounded and creamy from the scented water of the bath, they shrug elegantly. "I am well, my lord comte," she answers, "and looking forward of course to seeing you again at the Lis d'Or whenever it should be your pleasure to visit us…" She glances up to Philomène and then to the flushed young Rocaille. "The heat of the water, surely," she murmurs, by way of excusing his colouration.

At that, Cyrille's cheeks only grow more red. Not only from how Philomène calls attention to his blush, but by having Émilie mention a repeat visit. His lips part, preparing to say something, and then close again. He nods though, and then finally manages to say his mind. "Another visit, absolutely." He murmurs shyly, then nods his head in agreement. "Something in the water, surely. The heat, no doubt."

"I'll have to ask you to please name me Monsieur," Anghelescu murmurs to Émilie, though with a smile. "A matter of courtesy towards Her Grace — I have yet to inform anyone of my presence and some might take offence." Then he glances at Cyrille and for a moment the older man's face reveals a trace of sympathy; he too was once very young and easily affected by the presence of a beautiful — and very naked — woman. "The water is very hot, is it not?"

Philomène takes a moment to consider Émilie, eyes narrowing in thought, then she simply gives a little nod and settles back. There. Clean enough. Time to relax and enjoy the view for a bit. "Should I assume, then, Monsieur Anghelescu, that this is your young lady who is not the Lady Shahrizai? Good morning," she adds to Émilie with an offhandedness that implies she's greeting only because she has decided this morning that she will, not because it's an expected social nicety.

"… Monsieur, I do apologise," is Émilie's soft answer to Andrei, accompanied by a lowering of her warm and luminous brown gaze into the leg-cluttered depths of the pool. She looks then to Cyrille, who with his thoughts wandering in directions so natural to a nineteen-year-old seems to have mistaken her words, and adds, "Of course we hope to see you again too, my lord Rocaille. It's an honour for any salon to gain such handsome and distinguished new patrons." And, because Philomène has spoken to her directly, she speaks back: "My lady, good morning. I don't think we've met, have we? I'm Émilie Perigeux nó Lis d'Or — how do you do?"

Oh. With the conversation being shared, the blushing Lord comes to the realization of the intention, and Cyrille peeks back at Émilie, shyly nodding his head at her. And blushing more for the compliment. Otherwise, he peeks back at Andrei and nods his head towards him, mostly keeping silent for the moment.

Anghelescu laughs softly. "I should not aim quite so high, Lady Philomène — and I am surprised to find that there is a face in Marsilikan society with which you are not familiar. Please allow me — Mademoiselle Émilie Perigeux nó Lis d'Or, the Second of … Camellias? Lady Philomène d'Aiglemort and Lord Cyrille Rocaille. There, now I believe that we have all been formally introduced. Let us proceed to plotting how to conquer the world. I believe that that is the work of idle hands, coming up with mischief — is it not?"

"How do you do," Philomène responds in kind, glancing briefly between Cyrille and Émilie while a slight smile plays about her lips. "A Perigeux and a Rocaille. The learned province is well represented today, hm? That would explain the plotting. Mischief, however, I'll leave to you, Monsieur Anghelescu."

Of course Émilie, with her taste for exactitude in speech, notes that they have not all been formally introduced… But the Count Podgrabczyna apparently prefers to bathe incognito. Would that she might do the same. The marque, alas, is as good as a sign hanging round one's neck. "Camellias, yes, monsieur," she murmurs to him, dipping her chin in acknowledgment. Then, to Philomène: "There are a great many Siovalese in Marsilikos, of course, more so since my cousin Lord Huguet married into House Mereliot." Married, in fact, the then-heiress who reigns now as Lady of Marsilikos. "I don't usually plot in the morning, though," she admits; "for servants of Naamah the early part of the day is the time of rest."

As introductions are being offered around, Cyrille peeks around towards the faces, as though relearning them again, rather than having already learned them. "I wouldn't count myself as an expert on planning mischief, unfortunately." He murmurs softly, sinking down further into the water until only his chin and above remain unsubmerged.

"Perigeux is another Siovalese name, then," Anghelescu muses and then sinks down a moment to disappear entirely before resurfacing; his hair was starting to dry. Then he looks at Émilie and quirks an eyebrow before nodding. "I imagine that you do have a very busy evening life at that. I have been wondering at times what the highborn people of Marsilikos would do with their evenings if not for the salons — but I am perhaps just still being scornful after the one official gathering that I was tricked into attending by a certain older lady who is definitely present in this basin but shall absolutely go unnamed."

There's a certain amount of posturing before any battle. Minor skirmishes. Testing and probing for enemy weakness or strength. Displaying of one's own strength, or a facsimile thereof, as a warning or as a trap. As in war, so in politics. Philomène's little nudge to see if she can bait an action is swept aside with a show of familial strength. It is noted, and the courtesan's position in the order of society placed accordingly. The Chalasse d'Aiglemort nods, glances aside to Andrei to give him what for her is a bright, winning smile, then turns her attention to Cyrille. "And what, Lord Rocaille, would you consider yourself an expert on? After all, you are a studious man, and you say you've devoured many books. Something must have taken a particular interest, no?"

Beneath her mask of Camellia composure Émilie is faintly irritated by Philomène's pot-stirring and Andrei's arch insinuations alike; she's glad to turn to Cyrille and to scholarly subjects, less contentious than dynastic ones. (Usually. Sometimes. There's no such thing as a Siovalese academic who hasn't picked out a hill to die on.) "Ah, then yours is a life of study, Lord Rocaille…?" she inquires, inviting him back into the talk. "I think I envy you your opportunities." A dazzling smile crosses the waters of the pool to him.

"I have found that that isn't always true." Cyrille murmurs softly about Émilie's comment regarding the morning, and then immediately blushes, sinking into the water to conceal his face some. Mostly, he hides his cheeks, and then some attention is being leveled on him, and he lifts his face just enough from the water to speak. "Quite a few, yes." He answers, peeking back at Philly, and then towards Émilie, considering them both. "I find that science in general is particularly interesting, but I haven't settled on one subject over another. There is just too much to read over."

Anghelescu remains quite content to simply watch that exchange; he runs his fingers through his pale hair a few times to work out snarls and otherwise simply relaxes, blissfully unaware that once again, he's managed to violate a few social cues. Foreign customs are hard.

"Science in general," Philomène presses, fixing her grey-blue gaze on the young man as though deciding exactly how she ought to string him up. "But you must have some preference, surely? The natural sciences? Philosophical ones? Mathematics? Geography? Fluid dynamics? Science in general is rather like me stating that my particular preference for a bed fellow is a human being. Let us take that much as read. What have you read recently, for example?"

"… I'm the same, my lord," admits Émilie to Cyrille, in the interests of getting a Lis d'Or patron out of this hot water rapidly being brought to a boil; "all sorts of things interest me, at least for a week or two, and I find that too often I flit from book to book like a butterfly, without settling long enough."

As Philomène presses, Cyrille blushes at her mention of bedfellows, though he nods along with her questions well enough. "I read a lot." He murmurs softly, rising a bit further from the water, and then casting a glance towards Émilie, giving her a soft smile. "I did read an interesting account on Tiberian architecture. How their methods of constructing their homes differ from ours." He pauses, and then peeks back at Philomène. "But, I'd think you have more interesting things to say. You look like you have a lot of… History to you, my Lady. Are there any war stories you might be willing to share with a young Siovalese? Wine can be brought later, if that is your fancy."

"You'll need a good drinking heart to keep up with that one," Anghelescu murmurs with mild amusement. "Take it from me. I haven't managed yet. But I have had some absolutely glorious hangovers trying."

"I look like I have a lot of history to me," Philomène echoes flatly, eyes narrowing. "Are you for real? Are you actually, genuinely, honestly trying that line? Mademoiselle Émilie is doing her very best to be pleasant to you, for some reason which I'm going to put down to her just being one hell of a lot nicer person than I am, and you're hitting on me? What exactly are you expecting now, Lord Rocaille? Please, do enlighten us all."

The Camellia parts her perfect pink lips to essay a question about hypocaust construction, only to fall silent again when the young Rocaille lord eschews architecture for… Military history? Oh. No. Romantic current events. She manages not to look any one of her companions in the eye as the contretemps unfolds, sending its own kind of ripples through the bathing pool.

For his part, Cyrille's eyes widen, his cheeks flaring into a deep blush. "Oh, no no. I just meant…" He murmurs shyly as he shifts in the pool. "You've got a lot of scars. You look like you've seen a lot of battles!" He offers in turn, his cheeks turning a deep, dark red color. He peeks over towards Andrei for some form of support, and then ends up sinking deeper into the water, until once again, only his nose and eyes remain above the surface.

Anghelescu looks up at the ceiling and says with a smile, "I have some interest in the Tiberian baths and their constr—" and then he plops under, possibly because he can't stop himself from laughing but the least he can do is try to pretend otherwise, even if that means half-drowning, trying to not inhale too much water. Only when he does indeed resurface does he murmur, between coughs, "Oh good Lord, if you were serious in that attempt, you'd certainly be a braver man than I."

"And who the fuck do you think you are to be examining them?" Philomène retorts, the familiar underlying rage beginning to bubble to the surface. Her expression is quite serious now, and her gaze settled squarely on the unfortunate young man. "If you like books so much, read about them. What, you want to hear heroic tales of glorious victory? Or do you just want an excuse to ogle?"

It’s too much drama, and too much obligatory diplomacy, for first thing in the morning on what is supposed to be one’s day off. As Philomène squares up for a bitter fight, Émilie stages a retreat— the net effect of which is to give the gynophiles present something else to ogle, as five feet and ten inches of faultlessly formed Camellia rise naked from the pool, her sleek limbs and luxurious curves rosy from the heat and glistening wet. She bends — ah, how she bends, like a willow-tree bowing in the breeze — to pick up the towel she left at the edge of the pool, and holding it in one hand she takes her leave with unhurried regality, as if this were a throne room rather than a bath, and she the reigning queen of it. “My lords, my lady,” she murmurs, “I realise now the hour is later than I supposed. If you’ll pardon me—?”

"I think you misunderstand me, my Lady." Cyrille murmurs softly as he peeks his head from the water. While Émilie rises and begins to make her way out, he peeks back towards Philomène, and then Andrei, his cheeks as red as blood. Finally, he peeks towards Andrei and shakes his head softly. "Certainly not." He murmurs and begins to shift and rise from the water, less concerned now than he was prior, with revealing himself. "It's been pleasant. Though there are far more books for me to tackle." And he moves to find his clothes, abandoning the situation.

"Minunat", Anghelescu murmurs very quietly to himself and decides that now is a great time to study his own hands. Well, they are a pair of very good hands — long, slender fingers, a few scars, some calluses that hint of some kind of physical labour or other, though whether blade or instrument is hard to guess at a glance. "Do be well, mademoiselle, my lord." He's not getting up. Not right now, hell no.

"And now you call into question my intelligence," Philomène continues, the bare flicker of attention that had started to drift towards Émilie as she exited the pool snuffed out the moment she's accused of 'misunderstanding'. "I shall expect your apology by morning."

Émilie nods again to Andrei and pads away back to the changing rooms, her bare wet feet slapping softly against the tiles. The towel about her covers the greater part of her camellia marque— all but the topmost blossoms, sparkling as if with beads of dew.

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