(1312-04-01) Two Warnings
Summary: André calls on Armandine de Mereliot, in his new function as ambassador of the Flatlands.
RL Date: Thu Apr 02, 2020
Related: The Storm and the Calm
andre armandine 

Rooftop Garden — Ducal Palace

Some claim it was the l'Agnacite lord, husband to a Duchesse of Eisande some many generations ago, that inspired the idea of a rooftop garden. Even today, this place is favored among courtiers, as it combines the soothing tranquility of a true garden with the spectacular view over the city all the way down to the harbor. Potted plants, varying with the months of the season, create tiny paths amongst the greenery. In the summer months, a canopy set up between a trio of potted trees provides shade, offering shelter from the sun to those that sit upon the elaborately carved bench with the table to the side.

The balustrade is what remains from older times. Pairs of stone fish facing each other have been worked in between the balusters. Here and there, the structure thickens into a column that serves as pedestal for a statue, thus dividing the balustrade into three sections of equal length. The two manifestations of Eisheth have their gazes directed towards the city, one the healer, and the other the artist holding a lap harp in her hand.

The weather has certainly changed for the better, and so it may come as no suprise that this late morning finds Armandine de Mereliot outside on the rooftop garden. Of course, there is that warm dark blue cloak with fur lined hood, she wears over her courtly attire as protection from the occasional chilly gust of wind. But a smile warms the duchesse's features, as she stands there at the balustrade overlooking the city. A pair of ladies are beside her, one older and one younger. There is a guard at the door that leads from the solar to the rooftop garden, and besides, there is of course Gaulthier, the Cassiline who watches over Armandine's safety. He doesn't stand too far from her, as he lets his attentive gaze drift.

The arrival of spring means that people start travelling again like migrating birds - albeit in the opposite direction for some. The first time Prince Andre van Westerlo arrived in Marsilikos it was penniless and shipwrecked. Now the Flatlandish prince returns in style - on horseback, accompanied by four men-at-arms and two carts piled high with things. Of course his imminent arrival had been announced to the Duchesse a few days ahead (along with the hope that the Suite would still be his to reclaim). Now he is being shown up to the Solar, along with two of his men, who carry a heavy chest between them and mutter Flatlandish curses about the fact that Duchesse choose a palace on top of the building for this meeting. Andre is wearing the finest cloth Flemish clothmakers from Bruges could provide, all red-yellow and golden, the colours of his home. A red woollen cloth covers his shoulders and his light blonde hair is as shiny as gold. He even smells of something very expensive.

Perhaps the move has been deliberate. Or perhaps the duchesse doesn't expect André to show up with a heavy chest full of presents. As it is, she turns to regard André and his men as they step out onto the rooftop garden. "Ah… My lord, I had wondered when you would come and pay me a visit," the duchesse remarks. "Welcome back to our lovely city of Marsilikos, Prince André. I hope your travels were pleasant enough?" The two ladies in her company step to the side, but André can tell that the younger of the two gives him a long glance that is followed by a giggle.

Andre bows deeply to the Duchesse. "It is good to be back, Your Grace.", he smiles, "And now… as a proper representative and Ambassador of the Flatlands to Eisande. The journey went well, thank you. We departed as soon as the frosts ended." He pauses to look at his two men and the chest between them. "I have not yet had an opportunity to thank you properly for the hospitality and kindness you showed me last year, so I hope you will honour me by accepting a few humble gifts from my home." The 'humble' gifts in question being some rolls of very expensive dyed cloth, lace from Brussels, Flemish tapestries and indeed a wagonwheel of Dutch cheese along with some small barrels of beer and bottles of jenever.

"I am glad," Armandine comments on the information he gives on his travels. "And yes, I was just a touch surprised to hear that you would return, as ambassador of the Flatlands. Well, you are already a little familiar with our ways, and this city in particular." Her gaze drifts towards the chest and with an elegamt gesture of her hand she beckons her ladies closer. "Might we have a look?", she says, both in question towards André and encouragement towards her ladies. There are of course the delighted Oh's and Ah's when the fine lace is spotted, but also the tapestries receive their share of attention as they are unrolled and presented before the duchesse. "How very fine. Such exquisite presents," Armandine remarks, "And the cheese and beer. What is this…?" She holds up the bottle of jenever.

"I've grown to like your city and your D'Angeline ways.", Andre admits, "My father thought it would be good for me to spend a few more years abroad, strengthen trade ties and … well, learn more about foreign lands. I can easily visit other places such as Siovale, Aragon oder Caerdicca Unitas from here, too." He stands back while the ladies coo over the contents of the chest, clearly delighted. When Armandine lifts the jenever, he grins. "Oh, it's a speciality from home… a spirit… strong drink. Made from juniper berries. It'll warm the cockles on a cold night and provide you with strength when the peasants are revolting. Not that I think they would, around here. I'm jesting.", he adds. Just to be on the safe side.

"Will your travels lead you to the Capital too, I wonder?", Armandine muses with a smile that looks vaguely delighted. "You should also visit Elua, my prince. Not that I would wish to drive you off. The ambassador suite is vacant in the guest tower, you can reclaim your quarters from your last visit, of course. Jenever, hmm?" She hands the bottle off to one of her ladies. "Perhaps, these days we will try some of it, on a wonderful evening by the fireplace. You have not perchance come across the Dowager Vicomtesse de Gueret?" The question comes is a sudden turn of topic, all gently and innocently.

<FS3> Andre rolls Composure: Failure. (5 4 5 1 3 5)

The unexpected question takes Andre by surprise and he can't really control himself too quickly. So he makes a face as if he stepped into something unpleasant, before he recovers and smiles gently at Armandine. "I hear that the lady is well and still living here in Marsilikos.", he replies smoothly. Though he can't resist adding: "Why are you asking, Your Grace?"

There is a faint momentary glitter in Armandine's eyes. "Lady Philomène is well, and yes, she still lives here in Marsilikos," she confirms with a smile. "I know from a trusted source that you and her were not on the best of terms back then when you left. I would advise you not to seek reconciliation with her if that is your intention."

At the mention of the dowager vicomtesse, the younger of the ladies cannot help but shoot Armandine a surprised glance, and then that gaze sweeps to André, and the young woman bites her lip. A bit of rosiness is creeping onto her cheeks as she catches herself staring at him.

"She never forgave me that I stood by the mad Gotlandish woman's side… and that I had been right about her not being the Skaldic ogre she had determined to see her in.", Andre says softly. "I was not aware that she is still bearing a grudge. Thank you for your warning, Your Grace. I hope she will respect your town's hospitality to an official ambassador from abroad." The meaning is rather clear. He does not want to be found in a ditch with a dagger in his back. He clears his throat to move past the unpleasantness. "Anyway, I do not wish to keep you, Your Grace. I should probably make sure that my suite is being readied properly with the things I brought…"

"She will," Armandine replies in all simplicity. "And you know that I offer hospitality to all those visiting our fair city, such as you and her. I must also warn you about quite a different matter, Prince André. And that is, that some local families might approach you to introduce their lovely and eligible daughters. Unless you already are betrothed in the Flatlands and let as much be known."

There is more whispering and giggling going on on the side, between the duchesse's ladies. Needless to say, that the younger one seems to be quite entertained by the latter remark of Armandine de Mereliot.

Andre groans. That warning is far worse than the first one. Yet, he manages a somewhat sour smile. "I shall look forward to meeting them. I am not betrothed, although it is my father's wish to change this unfortunate circumstance soon." There, now the ladies have some more to giggle. He bows deeply to them and then even deeper to Armandine. "Your Grace, it is good to be back. I am sure our paths shall soon cross again." And as soon as he's allowed he'll take his leave with the men in tow.

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