(1312-05-31) White Rose Fallen
Summary: The adept Alienor finds more solace even than she expected within the grounds of the Temple of Naamah.
RL Date: 31/05/2020
Related: An Owed Apology and This Season Shall Pass.
iphigenie alienor 

Maignard Residence — Noble District


The letter arrives promptly and by a familiar hand, when Iphigénie is away from home upon other business; and then it sits a few hours unregarded upon her desk.

My dearest lady:

I assured you that I would update you with my status once something was decided, and I regret to inform you that I have been dismissed from La Rose Sauvage. It has been decided that the salon is no place where I can thrive and be happy, and I am to take no more assignations of any kind. I shall be released from my debt to the salon, and I will receive enough money that the marquist may finish the art on my back. I am free. I may yet live.

And yet, my lady, I am adrift. I have nowhere to go. No friends. I am alone. I expect that I shall spend much time at the Temple of Naamah as I recover from my unfortunate experience, and I hope that through prayer, our Bright Lady may grant me strength. Your support has been a pillar of light in this dark time, and I feel that you must be touched by the angels themselves.

I hope that I may visit you socially soon. I am no one but me, but I would like to consider you a friend. At this time, I must remain at the salon and be escorted about the city with a guard and a chaperone, for my safety, of course, but my movement is not limited.

Respectfully yours, with much affection,

Alienor

And so plans are laid, in compassionate cunning, for the next day.


Temple of Naamah — Marsilikos

The Temple of Naamah is a serene and lovely building which has been constructed of stark white marble and cool latticed stonework. Decorations here reflect the gentle side of the angel to which the temple plays homage, the building being filled with an abundance of flowers that spill from columns and pedestals. Within the centre of the main hall, arching columns support a dome that is open to the skies above, and these are hung with garlands of flowers amongst which the temple doves sit and preen. A narrow carpet of carmine red runs from the main doors, through the arches, and towards the rear of the temple to where an exquisite alabaster statue of Naamah herself kneels upon an altar of deepest grey granite. She is depicted with her eyes closed in quiet repose, and with her hands extended palms uppermost before her. On the floor around the base of the plinth are shallow bowls of chased silver, receptacles for the coins and trinkets that are offerings to the angel herself. Scarlet-robed priests and priestesses might be found within the temple whatever the hour of day or night, going about their chores or offering comfort and guidance to those that seek it.


Three times now the failed White Rose adept Alienor has met with the same high-ranking and much-experienced priestess of Naamah, at the same hour of the morning: coming out of a private chamber with that motherly red-robed woman’s hand still on her shoulder, encouraging her even as she bids her farewell, one can only hope that such regular religious counsel is laying to rest her demons. One who certainly hopes so, is Iphigénie Maignard.

The Kusheline lady is seated a handful of yards away in her wheeled chair, her black-gloved hands clasped placidly in her black-gowned lap, with her own maid and lackey at her back and Alienor’s little Rose Sauvage entourage of a chaperone and a guard standing beside them. A thin and light white shawl draped about her head and shoulders wards her against the comparative cool of the early summer morning, not squishing but extending the halo of her soft white hair. She is perfectly painted and perfectly composed. When the door opens her gaze flicks toward it, her eyes glittering green. She lifts a hand toward Alienor.

“Ah,” remarks the priestess to Alienor, “I see your friend is here… Go with our lady’s blessing, my child, and I’ll see you tomorrow, mm?” She smiles warmly at her latest and most troubled young congregant, and squeezes her shoulder again before stepping back into her office.

"Thank you," Alienor says to the priestess with a smile, and though she's been crying, she's not crying now. She is still in white, though, one of her plainest gowns with very little decoration to it. The sleeves have been shortened, ending at the elbows, and her dark hair is pulled up severely into a tight twist. She looks exhausted, like she hasn't been sleeping, with dark circles under her eyes, and she has not bothered with makeup, not that she needs it usually. She shuffles immediately for Iphigénie's chair, and her smile widens.

"My lady," she says in a rush, offering the woman a hasty curtsey in excitement. "It is so good to see you!"

<FS3> Iphigénie rolls Perception: Good Success. (7 1 4 3 5 1 6 5 3 6 7 6 6 5)

Iphigénie looks over her little friend with a critical but kindly eye: unveiled and unpainted and unadorned, her petals worn and bruised from her weeping and her lack of proper rest, and yet with the loveliness of her youth just waiting to come into bloom again. She can imagine it, anyway, even if to Alienor herself it may seem a far-off prospect this morning.

“I had your letter yesterday, my dear,” she explains quietly. All the hovering attendants can hear her well enough, though. “I thought if I came at this hour I might run into you here as well, and we might say a prayer together.” And talk, of course, in the most unexceptionable manner, two former servants of Naamah together before her very altar. She gestures, and her lackey begins to wheel her chair along towards the main hall with her maid following behind and Alienor at her side. The Rose Sauvage party falls into step with them, palpably hovering, zealous in their protection of this fallen white rosebud in these last days of the salon’s duty to her.

Alienor processes towards the altar with Iphigénie in a formal and reverent manner, her hands folded demurely against her dress, and she nods in acknowledgment of the woman's words and fights to keep from bursting into tears again. "I did not want to put anything in the letter that Monsieur might fret about," she explains quietly. "I do wish to pray with you, of course. I have spent a lot of time praying. The weight of what has happened sits heavily on my shoulders now that I have had time to think and grieve."

<FS3> Iphigénie rolls Religion: Amazing Success. (2 1 6 7 2 1 3 8 8 4 8 7 3 1 8)

The walk to the altar through the temple precincts and along the red carpet is long enough by itself to require the use of Iphigénie’s chair, even without the indeterminate time she expected to wait. It rolls along steadily, piloted by the lackey, keeping pace with Alienor.

“I suspected the tale might be a longer one,” she admits in an undertone, “but that can wait for another day, I think, if you find you still wish to tell me. I’m very pleased, my dear, that you are coming to pray and to receive counsel — in these pivotal moments of one’s life, the clarity and the peace that one may arrive at through prayer are especially precious. I hope it’s so for you as it has been for me.” And the chair halts, whilst Iphigénie is still looking up at Alienor.

The maid Nadège offers her mistress a tiny jar of honey, and then a walking stick that isn’t the one Alienor has most often seen her employ. The handle of it follows the shape of her usual silver-tipped ebony cane — but the shaft of it is ornately carven, twined about with vines which bear not only blossoming roses but wickedly curved thorns. Closer study of it might reveal sprigs of lavender, a mandrake flower or two, and even the occasional bee. It rather resembles the trinket-box on the shelf over Iphigénie’s bed, as if the two were carved as a set.

The intrusion of these necessities into her peripheral vision draws Iphigénie’s gaze away from Alienor. She accepts them, and plants the stick firmly to get herself up with. Her knees utter their accustomed pops of protest. She steps forward and places the jar of honey, gathered by her own hands from the hives of her own bees, in an offering bowl of chased silver. Then she takes a step back, and claims Alienor’s hand in her own, and bows her head to pray.

It’s almost as though she’s leading an impromptu service, for Alienor beside her and their combined entourage and one or two other morning worshippers whose ears are seduced by the slow and honeyed rhythms of her Kusheline accent and her traditional, comforting phrases. She speaks not as if reciting from memory, but as if each word is fresh, felt in that moment, spilling from her dark red lips in a passionate and spontaneous voicing of her devotion. And then her left hand’s long and rather bony fingers tighten subtly upon Alienor’s, with the fervour of the benediction she beckons down upon all those who love Naamah truly, calling upon the Bright Lady to return to her worshippers the twin blessings of loving and being loved.

With her hand held tightly and her head bowed, Alienor prays with the elderly Valerian in a very passionate sort of way, her eyes closed and her other hand clutched against her breast. She feels it. She is moved. Love fills her, and she is at peace for a moment, at the very least. She breathes quietly, gently.

When the prayer finally ends, she gives Iphigénie's hand a gentle squeeze and exhales slowly before rising on tiptoes to lean in and give the older woman a kiss on the cheek that says much of her affection and appreciation of friendship. "Thank you," she whispers, like she hasn't been praying and being counseled all morning already. "That was beautiful."

Iphigénie lifts her head at the end of her prayers— but seeing that kiss inbound she bows it again, and offers her softly powdered cheek to Alienor’s impulsively affectionate lips.

She smiles, and squeezes the girl’s hand once more before letting go in favour of the arm of her wheeled chair, which she lowers herself into with a crackle of joints and a sigh not made entirely by the costly fabric of her gown. “And so is the morning,” she maintains with deliberate lightness, “and so are you. Shall we take a turn about the gardens, my dear—?”

This promenade too is well-shadowed, and with every word spoken between them surely noted for a future report to the Dowayne of the Rose Sauvage. He’ll hear from Alienor’s chaperone that the dowager vicomtesse de Rothéneuf civilly inquired: “And what will you do, now that you are to be free? Have you family here in Marsilikos? Will you go back to them?”

"Yes, let us go spin through the gardens," Alienor replies with a nod to Iphigénie, almost cheerful, though her moods have been even more mercurial than usual lately.

Her answer to the question about her family includes a little nod. "Yes, my lady," she says. "They're local merchants. My father specializes in textiles. And I've an interest in fashion, so I suppose that's an option for the future." Such an answer does not indicate whether she has contacted these people that she has not seen in years nor her emotions about the potential for seeing these people again.

<FS3> Iphigénie rolls Empathy: Good Success. (7 5 1 8 6 3 1 2 7 2 5 3 4)

Out in the open air and the greenery Iphigénie breathes deep, her lungs enjoying the morning’s freshness even if her bones might have preferred to linger indoors whilst the sun ascended just a wee bit further toward its zenith. But her chair, rolled at an even pace by a sympathetic lackey who knows not to go too fast with her, provides comfort enough that she can pay heed to Alienor’s expression and her eyes, and to the lacunae she leaves.

“They must have had great hopes for you,” she says quietly, “and for your service to Naamah.” Even if such a daughter had not become consort or lover to a powerful man, someone of noble birth or near enough, she might have brought extraordinary customers — nobles, and the courtesans their riches support — to fill the familial coffers to overflowing… “You have many options, yet, Alienor,” she suggests, “as young as you are. But if your family finds it difficult to accommodate you unexpectedly—” She draws in a breath, and employs that garden-scented air to give voice to what she has been considering for a day or two already. “You know I have a house full of empty rooms. You might come to me for a while until you form some more definite idea. You are not as friendless as you may have felt,” she points out gently, looking up at Alienor with her eyes so tremendously, vividly green, “when you sat down to write.”

"Yes," Alienor replies, and suddenly she's wiping away tears and shaking a bit as Iphigénie manages to read her like a little book once more. Then again, she's making no effort to hide her true emotions from the noblewoman, even if the chaperone is a different story. "I'm terrified they won't want me back. I was seventh, of ten, and I don't know… I would love to come visit you, though. I would not take up much space; I don't own terribly much."

There's a hesitant pause, and then she says earnestly, "I do want to ask you if I may paint a portrait of you for Monsieur, though. I have a bit of wood picked out and finished and ready for painting. It won't be large, but it is a very nice sample, and… I think he might appreciate it very much." She takes a deep breath.

“Then I’ll have a chamber made ready for when you need it,” Iphigénie pledges smoothly, as if the offer and its acceptance were of no moment, and not at all the extension and the receipt of a lifeline for someone whose assured future has, in a handful of days, crumbled away.

“Though I hope you’ll find something prettier than me to paint,” she goes on, “perhaps in the garden… I think Monsieur Raphael would be charmed to have some flowers from your hand. I believe he is quite interested in botany since he came back to Eisande.” She looks away from Alienor, and glances about the flowering temple gardens. “The growing season here is so long, and so flourishing,” she says softly. “I hope you’ll find it so for you as well, my dear.”

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