(1312-03-30) Sweet Treats and Sourness
Summary: Two novices from the Rose Sauvage make a rare excursion in search of sweets; for a certain veteran vicomtesse, however, the baker has also a tidbit of something sour…
RL Date: 30/03/2020
Related: Incident at the Palace.
audrialla gabriel isolde philomene raimbaut 

Bakery — Market Promenade

L'Agnacites hold with the truism the expression of art through food is a holy calling, and such a shrine pays homage to the creative spark. Gourmands worship at a marble altar groaning under a sinful array of glistening pastries and thin cakes. Offerings stacked in neat rows behind glass gleam bright as a raj's jewels: ripe cranberries and pomegranate seeds under clear glaze, clouds of pearly cream, ruby strawberries and pale jade grapes. Pale gold custard tarts and honey-drenched buns sit next to delicate finger-cakes dusted in cocoa and curls of shaved chocolate. Fruits of the season laboriously contrived into visual illusions transform humble apples into ladies' purses with aid of crepes, or create the famed dome of Marsilikos from apricots and oranges.

Senses besieged from every direction find no relief. Colourful cream-filled macarons whet the visual appetite as the scent of fresh-baked breads stir out from the ovens from the pre-dawn hours until mid-afternoon. Seating is sparse, merely a few wooden benches to the front. The long, narrow shop is dominated by display cases and the odd bottle of fruit wine and sherry mounted upon a shelf for an afternoon aperitif. Plain white walls graced by sconces overflowing in seasonal flowers hardly detract from the baked goods for sale, and the narrow shopfront windows allow light to pour in.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a spring morning. The weather is warm and fair.

Raimbaut is just on the cliff's edge of turning sixteen, and he can feel the birthday breathing on the back of his neck. Maybe that's why, despite the warmer weather, he's shrugged up the collar of his long white tunic, half-hiding one cheek below its voluminous fold. His shy little fingertips poke out from a long, loose sleeve to tug at the fingertips of his fellow-novice and companion in his present excursion, toddling along behind the somewhat less diffident novice a half-pace, honey-colored eyes shaded in long blonde lashes as he keeps tabs on the bakery's floor, once they've entered.

Gabriel turned sixteen not long ago. While a novice of a different flavor than Raimbaut, they are still of the same Salon. The dark haired male with his slender build glides into the bakery with a commanding presence to him, regal and refined. He has the grace of a dancer as he guides his companion into the shop. Thier chaperones follow not far behind them. The raven haired novice might at first be taken for a thorn with his regal and elegant demeanor but his attire marks him as a novice of the Red Roses instead. Stepping inside he glides over towards the chocolates on display, smiling faintly. "Mmm…cherries covered with chocolate. They looks postively sinful." he glances back at the other novice accompanying him curiously his stormy gaze softening just a touch.

The door opens behind the pair, letting in a waft of cool air to swirl ominously around the ankles. One has to wonder if Philomene's very presence is what causes it, or if she only ventures out on cold days in order to best make use of the effect. Her own attire is more practical than anything else, tall riding boots, fitted dark breeches that do a passable job of disguising the off angle of her left leg, and the ubiquitous brown riding jacket with the intricate embroidery at cuffs, collar and buttonholes. She, unlike most patrons of this shop, has no eyes for the sweet pastries, but instead peers over towards the back and the loaves there, pursing her lips.

Raimbaut draws his gaze upward when Gabriel looks back at him, meeting it and offering up a timid but heartfelt smile, lifting his other copious sleeve to poke one finger out from beneath the fabric and point at a creamy slice of pastry with a sliver of a peach on top of it. But then his ankles are sending up the alarm, goosebumps are flaring from thigh to the back of his neck, and he turns to spy the peering woman, only but briefly, before he tugs in closer to Gabriel and returns his view downcast with a harried little flutter.

Philomène sets her weight on her back leg, folding her arms as she waits for the children to finish buying their sweeties. She glances aside to the taller of the two chaperones, simply raising a brow as though to say 'kids'. Nonetheless, her attention does draw back to the novices and the pastries when Raimbaut taps the glass to point out one in particular. Eyes narrow, lips purse, and finally she lifts her chin, asking, "You'll tell me if the peaches are any good yet." Not a request, or a polite greeting, just something somewhere between command and expectation.

The Red Rosebud with his cherry, the White Rosebud pushes up onto his toes, taking the little plate with his slice of creamy tart on it into both hands and settling back in only to find his companion gone over there to look at something else, and the ankle-alarmist here at hand, instead, inquiring after the peaches, which makes his hands tremble a mite, his neck, just now locked in a sudden paralysis, he compels to effect a tiny quiver of a nod, barely a motion, but with timorous compliance slathered across his pale complexion.

Philomène exhales irritably. "You can speak," she insists, fixing her gaze on the youngster. "Whatever you might have heard, I'm not a monster. I haven't murdered anyone for telling me their opinion of fresh fruit in months. Is it good or not? It's a little early in the season, but we're further south here so I'm open to being proven wrong." She unfolds her arms, suddenly enough to cause alarm and for the short, open jacket's lapels to shift, embroidery catching the light. But then her hands are comfortably at her belt rather than anywhere more ominous, but given that there's at least one long blade sheathed there and the glittering hint of another just below the small of her back, perhaps it's not so much of a relief after all.

Raimbaut does not contradict Philomene, of course, but neither does he have a fork to hand to take to his morsel. He might go and find one, but he's pinned there, rather, below Philomene's insistence, and he finally just hovers a finger over the lower tip of the peach slice, poking into the pastry and picking up the tip of it smeared on his finger, tearing the fruit with a rounded fingernail, then lifting it to his mouth to envelop with his lips in order to come up with the desired critique. His lips can't hold back a smile at the flavor, of course, and, finger still in place, he nods his approval, the gesture nearly enthusiastic, for such a shy boy.

Audrialla backs her way out of the kitchen with a tray of full of scented bread loves. Nutmeg. Cinnamon. Cloves. The pain d'epice is still steaming fresh as she starts to stock her display case. "Oh! Good morning, welcome, welcome."

"Words," Philomene prompts, with what is both an unusual and slightly terrifying patience. "Use your words. It tends to make it approximately four thousand times easier to communicate, I do recommend it, young man. Mademoiselle Audrialla," she adds as the baker makes her way out. More terrifying yet, there's a smile on her face. "This young chap was just enjoying your peach pastry. Local, or imported?"

Raimbaut suckles slowly on his finger, though there can't be much left for him to enjoy, anymore. Philomene's prompt to use words just makes his shy blush rise and he tucks in his cheek close to his shoulder, half-hiding himself and his cheersome smile. While Philomene is distracted saying hello to the baker, he sneaks another daub of the cream onto his fingertip and steals it back into his mouth. It's not a bad way to enjoy it, after all. His lashes flutter at Audrialla when he's pointed out to her, and he sways a little bit in place, as though unable to quite contain the enjoyment.

Audrialla answers, "From Siovale my lady," as she smiles over at Raimbaut. "They grow nice and juicy there, with the weather so warm and sunny. I prefer to use good Terre de'Ange bounty when I can." The angelic young man's pleasure makes her smile more broadly. "I'm glad you're enjoying them. I strive for perfection."

Philomène nods a little as she buries this useful peach knowledge away somewhere in her mind, pauses a moment, then rounds on Raimbaut to demand, "And the pastry?" She looks as though perhaps she might be of a mind to physically lift the poor boy by the throat to get her answer, but then she shakes her head. "But of course you can't really say, with the artisan right here. Mademoiselle, then. Your opinion of the flour?"

Raimbaut bobbles his head in eager assurance to Audrialla, if his posture and general aura of gaudition aren't assurance enough. Philomene's sudden recourse to him makes his eyes widen, but fails to do away with his smile, startlement though it may have been. And doesn't he just sport the very most grabbable throat? Tender and long. But his chaperone might disapprove. And he's being let off of the hook for an answer as to the pastry, and he turns his attention back to Audrialla to attend to her answer.

Audrialla air kisses her fingers, making the gesture of beauty and satisfaction. "Smooth as satin, my lady. It baked up into very nice choux. In fact" she says with a motion to Raimbaut, "our lovely friend is enjoying it as we speak."

Philomène actually allows herself a genuine smile, the expression enough to turn an otherwise stony countenance into something with at least a hint of the carefree woman she once was. She even lets out a short laugh, nodding her approval. "Ah, well, I think we can claim only a fragment of the credit for that, the majority of which must go to the craftsman, but I'm pleased it's to your satisfaction. And," she adds, with a wry glance towards Raimbaut, "apparently to yours, monsieur."

Raimbaut draws up a shoulder and twists his back, drawing one knee over in front of his other knee in a bashful twist when Audrialla speaks of him so, then pivots back and forth with a subtle pressure of his toes against the flooring, a giddy flavor of shy. His brows rise to the wry glance and he nods, nods nods, taking another scoop.

Audrialla nods to Philomene. "I would be pleased to put in a regular order with your farms, my lady. It can only benefit us both to have a partnership. And benefit the city, as well."

"I'll have a contract drawn up and send it to you this evening," Philomene decides with a nod, smile still playing about her lips. She raises one slender finger, pointing to the peach slices. "In the meantime, do you think I might try a little?" It's a miracle. Not only is she smiling, but against all odds and much to the amazement of all, she is actually deliberately asking for something to eat, and what's more it's something sweet and frivolous, too. It's possible she's been replaced by a pod person.

Audrialla is a little surprised herself. The smile has her take a step back and her green eyes flutter. "Wh-why of course. And this one is free. Anything else you wish is at a discount, as a patron and partner." She winks as she recovers a little from her surprise. As she fetches one of the fresh peaches and a small pot of cream, she smiles over at the fetching young man. "I must say, watching you enjoy my work is a pleasure, my dear lad."

Raimbaut doesn't know much of Philomene, but is good enough to be charmed by her pod person replacement, his swivelling stance softening, his planted foot relieved of its burden as he shifts slightly closer, lifting the slice from the crimps now that the narrow end of it is not as likely to tumble down when held aloft of the plate. He looks for the next morsel to be presented while taking a delicate bite from the narrower end. Oh, but he's being observed, and it pinkens his ears to hear of it. The tip of his tongue slips to his upper lip, but he's swift to lit his hand to cover up any gesture that might read in any way suggestive.

The only gesture Philomene is likely to find suggestive would be to draw a blade or ball a fist, but Raimbaut is hardly to know that. He can hide his shameful enjoyment behind his hand all he likes. "I'm not usually one for pastries," she admits. "I was going to try a little, then give the rest to a friend. But perhaps if this young man enjoys them as much as it would appear… monsieur, have you considered placing a regular order for your household?" comes the suggestion. Look, it's not that she's mercenary, but enough years trying to shave a penny off costs here and stretch income to cover the hardest winter months and it's second nature by now to look for an economic advantage wherever it might come from.

"I cater for debuts and can create custom cakes and show pieces," she says to Raim, trying to draw words out of him or his escort. "And I'm always happy to deliver to the salons. Strawberries dipped in chocolate are popular." She winks merrily, giving a teasing smile.

Raimbaut stands a little taller at Philomene's suggestion, eyes wide as he points to his own person, looking an enchanting combination of baffled and abashed, as though he would have any say about what gets ordered to the house. He glimpses briefly to his chaperone, who just smiles at the kid and the situation he's in. But when Audrialla seems apt to engage her, as well, she steps closer, past Raimbaut and nods affably. "We'll be about to start planning, and keep it in mind," she smiles, while Raimbaut is making an effort to turtle back into the voluminous neck of his white tunic, ears turning from pink to red.

"You might mention it to your Second, at least," Philomene drawls, appearing to casually draw her left leg up behind her to lean against the back wall, arms folding. "Growing young chaps like you need your sustenance. A pastry every morning would do you good." Pot, kettle, from the slender older woman.

Audrialla present Philomene with her request sweet treat with a smile. "And for you as well," she says, catching that reference. She, herself, is curved properly like any buxom peasant woman out to be. "I do quite a few breakfast orders for several of the houses." She addresses the escort again and nods sharply. "Excellent. I am always available when it comes to the Salons. As you serve Naamah, this is my calling. Delights of different types ."

Coming in through the doors, the amazonian form of Isolde follows the scent of fresh bread in search of her breakfast. The dark haired woman wears her black training leathers this morning and carries her blade. Yet her demeanor is polite as the large woman steps into the bakery. Pausing she regards those present breifly with violet eyes and a faint smile.

Raimbaut polishes off this morning's pastry, at last, clearing the flaky bits of crust from his thumb and forefinger and holding the plate in one hand while patting his tum with the other. He sure wouldn't mind a breakfast like this every day, nope. He's glowing, just a little, some leftover blush, some sugar rush, as the topic passes from his looming debut to the baker's own service, the declaration of which gathers up an empathic gaze from the novice. They really are birds of a feather. Isolde's entrance makes him glimpse back that way, then to Philomene, as though they might be having some sort of swordsman convention in the bakery this morning.

Philomène steps forward to accept the box with a nod of gratitude, her weight shifting and the swing of her leg forward quite peculiar to her. Even from a distance there are few that couldn't pick that limp out of a crowd. "My thanks, mademoiselle. I imagine providing one of these and a bottle of good wine for supper will make me immensely popular tonight, and I might be forgiven for spending my evening drawing up contracts for you instead of making the most of good company. Although, if you have a moment or two this afternoon instead..?" she suggests lightly, already limping a pace or two over to the end of the counter so she and the baker can argue over the specific, niggly details of this new mercantile arrangement.

Audrialla waves a hand in greeting to Isolde and sends one of her many nephew apprentices to help her. "My lady," the sandy haired youth says. "Welcome to Malet's. How can we serve you today?"

Audrialla and Philo talk business. Order sizes, costs, shipment times. Very boring.

Audrialla recalls something suddenly, her eyes flashing with the memory. "Oh! My lady. Do you recall a Prince Andre? Flat lander I think?"

Where Philomene had been smiling, relaxing, generally looking as though she was enjoying herself, that disappears in an instant, replaced with narrowed eyes and a distrustful look. "The flatlander who employed and defended the Skaldi, yes. I'm aware of the man, and if I never have to set eyes on him again it'll be too soon. Why? Is he dead?"

There's a long, drawn-out sigh from the baker who says, in a rush, "Hesbackasanofficialambassadorandishereinthecity."

The corner of the pastry box is slowly squashed in Philomene's hand. Her jaw sets and her eyes flash dangerously. "Ambassador," she asks, words slow, measured and eerily quiet, "to whom, precisely?"

Audrialla takes a concerned step back. For her own safety. "He didn't say, my lady. A-and I didn't think to ask," she stammers, well and truly cowed.

Philomène sets the box down with enough force to definitely ruin the aesthetics of the pastry within if not entirely squash it flat. "It's a fucking insult is what it is," she growls, hand almost automatically moving to rest on the hilt of her sword. "If that little shit comes in here, I will pay you good money to refuse him service until we're rid of him. How fucking dare he…?!"

"It behooves me to oblige, my lady, if we are business partners now. I would not dare offend you," Audrialla says, perhaps wisely so. "Shall I advise his highness that I -won't- be making his pastries from now on?"

"Or bake razor blades into them, either way," Philomene decides, sweeping a hand futilely at the selection of pastries. "What the fuck has that little bastard done to deserve any sort of hospitality? I'll be bringing it up with her grace, you can be sure of that."

Audrialla shakes her head, her hands gesturing wide. "I don't know. His carriage and his men stopped at the Fish until an apartment could be provided elsewheee. He, ahh, asked if you were still in the city so I informed him you were. He did not seem pleased either."

"I'll set the fucking place on fire," Philomene growls. "I live here. This is my bloody country. That puffed up useless ball of shite can fuck off home if he doesn't like it. Or even if he does like it."

Green eyes go wide. "I-I-I am sorry to be the bearer of ill news. I thought it best you hear it rather than encounter him by accident," the baker stammers, wringing her hands.

"Ah, with luck I'll still encounter him by accident," Philomene insists, eyes narrowed. "Ideally when I'm training, and he accidentally slips and trips into my sword."

Audrialla dares to ask. "What did the prince do to earn your wrath. You mentioned the Skaldi?" She seems reluctant to inquire of the wrathful woman.

Philomène slams her fist down on the counter. The pastry box jumps and wobbles alarmingly close to the edge. "That little bastard hired a Skaldi assassin who tried to kill me is what!"

"Sweet Companions!" Her mouth falls into a surprised O shape. "He seemed like si h a charming and sweet man too!"

"He's a poisonous little scrotum with all the sense and wisdom of a cheese roll," Philomene snaps back. "Being a fucking idiot is no excuse, and you can be sure that there's nothing more substantive between his ears than you'll find in your puff pastries. I served on the front. I played my part to stop the Skaldi invading Terre d'Ange. To invite them in is a fucking insult, and to give them weapons and defend them is unthinkable."

Audrialla chews anxiously on her lip. "No wonder you hate him so, my lady. I'll be sure to refuse his custom when next he calls." Her head nods firmly at that, resolute. "It's a shame, really. I rather liked him."

"Hatred is too strong a word," Philomene decides, straightening her jacket and taking a limping pace away. "He is despicable. Enough, I am going to go to Her Grace this instant and demand he is removed. It's unthinkable."

Audrialla curtsies quickly, bobbing up and down. "As you will, my lady. I'm sure we'll speak of more pleasant things next time."

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