(1312-06-11) Taking Measures
Summary: From time to time Philomène makes certain offers to people staring at her and her gammy leg. Little does she ever expect to be taken up on one.
RL Date: 10/06/2020 - 11/06/2020
Related: The Last Few Coins and other recent Alienor logs.
alienor philomene 

Jardins d'Eisheth — Marsilikos

Tranquility and beauty of nature is what those coming to the gardens of Eisheth usually seek. There is a playfulness in the arrangement of paths through the greenery, and the way four of them wind to the center, where there is a pond surrounded by a few elm trees, beside an area with wooden benches and tables beneath an arbor, where ivy winds about wooden posts, and a roof of colorfully glazed tiles offers shelter from the sun but also moderate rain.

Bushes are trimmed, and the green is kept short, so that people coming here can enjoy the dramatic view over the coast all the way to the sea, with the harbor and the citadel slightly to the north. Slightly towards the south and close by is the infirmary with the herb garden beside, where a variety of plants used for healing and treating certain illness are grown under the immaculate care of the healers. Towards the east, a path leads towards the temple district, where the dominant structure of the Temple of Eisheth looms, the white marble shimmering almost otherworldly on late afternoons, when it catches the warm, orange light of the setting sun.

Some people come to the gardens to enjoy the peace, some pass through to the infirmary or the temple beyond, and some to admire the beauty of the flowers, shrubs and plants, which are in the height of their blooming season. Even in the light rain that keeps failing to make up its mind if it's coming or going, the gardens aren't empty this morning. A couple are pawing all over each other in the shelter of an arbour, there's an entranced young man feeding scraps of bread and cake to ever more enthusiastic and raucous seagulls, and over in an otherwise unoccupied corner, an older blonde lady appears to be going through the movements of an incredibly slow dance.

Dressed in an improbable pale robe which would be loose and flowing over her were it not quite so sodden through and therefore clinging unflatteringly to the skin beneath, Philomène also wears at her waist a much more down to earth and practical looking worn sword belt, holding both a brutally simple blade and a much shorter, curved and jewelled dagger. But then, when doesn't she? What might become clear after enough time watching her move, though, are two things. First, that the movements are very precise, and follow the major forms of the Camaeline fencing style with a couple of additions, and second, that certain movements cause her to wobble and occasionally falter as weight is set on what the clinging cloth reveals to be a very oddly angled left leg.

Coming out of the infirmary, Alienor is tucking away a pot of salve into the large patch pockets of her billowing white summery dress. It hangs in loose lines from the shoulders with enough fabric to largely hide her body but also to keep the fabric from gluing itself to her back with the salve. An open backed dress might make more sense, but she's veiled like a White Rose, and really, it'd be gauche to show off an unfinished and probably still quite angry marque.

The girl pauses under an awning to watch the older blonde lady go through her exercises, and she looks pensive and thoughtful, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. She glances to the sky, but it seems unwilling to stop drizzling for the moment, so she goes back to staring.

Philomène doesn't so much as glance over in her direction, jaw set firmly in stubborn denial of any sort of weakness as she moves smoothly from one guard position to a downward strike, or what would be a strike if she had a sword in her hand, the other hand up and ready to deflect a counter with her imaginary dagger. This position she holds, trembling a little with the effort and the moisture on her brow is definitely not due to the rain alone, before shifting her weight with blessed relief onto her good leg and drawing back upwards in an unusual additional riposte to the standard ten forms. "Did you want to paint a picture?" she suggests drily, clipped Camaeline vowels even shorter given her current exertions.

"Yes, alright," Alienor replies to Philomène, and reaches in her pocket for a leather pouch in which is contained a sketchbook and some pencils. She takes pains to keep the paper dry as she starts to sketch out the forms that Philomène moves into with one of the pencils. She draws quickly, just catching the shape of the posture, a suggestion of the movement.

The unexpected response to her rhetorical question is enough to prompt, were there a soundtrack, a record scratch, and a sudden, sharp look in the young woman's direction. And yet she did technically offer and only has herself to blame. "The offer was not made in earnest," Philomène admits after a moment, annoyed enough that her brows draw together, dislodging a trickle of water to run down the bridge of her nose. "You were staring. If you're looking for ways to entice me to sleep with you, you're not my type."

"I am not permitted to take assignations at this juncture, and I don't know that I shall ever do so again," Alienor replies as she pauses in her sketching to look up at Philomène earnestly. "May I continue to sketch you? Or will that only make you uncomfortable? You did offer, and I hoped it might be okay. I am interested in watching, but I will leave if you prefer." She glances over her shoulder, and a chaperone and a guard in the livery of the Rose Sauvage have drawn closer to her, keeping watch over her.

Philomène eases into the next form, eyeing Alienor suspiciously. "Why? A series of sketches of novelty and curiosities? Draw the damn flowers, or the boats on the sea, or some willing idiot who'll sit still for you to capture their beauty. You'll never sell a picture of some old battleaxe going through the motions."

"I don't care," Alienor replies a bit stubbornly. "I draw flowers all the time. Lots of flowers. The body in motion is interesting to me. People do not fight or dance where I can see them. This is new. But if you want me to stop, I'll stop." She sighs faintly and starts putting away her drawing utensils.

"Clearly you need to get out more," is Philomène's curt suggestion, jaw clenching as she shifts into another guard, again with her weight on her left leg. "Draw what you damn well like, but if I find my likeness plastered to some nebby fuckwit's wall, I'll have words to say."

"When my marque is finished and approved, then I will be dismissed from La Rose Sauvage, and I will have more freedom to explore as I like, though as it is now, I am allowed out into the city with a chaperone and a guard," Alienor replies smoothly to Philomène, tilting her head to one side. She pulls out her pencil again. "I assure you, you will never see your likeness painted by me unless you commission it as such, and then it shall be you who chooses which nebby fuckwit may hang it on his or her wall."

Philomène narrows her eyes for a moment, then gives a short laugh, returning imaginary blades to already full sheaths before rolling her shoulders to ease out any tension. "Like I said, if you're looking to me to help finish your marque, you're barking up the wrong tree, mademoiselle. I'm here for the fresh air and the glorious weather," she insists, blowing a droplet of water from the tip of her nose. "I don't doubt you can find some moony eyed young fellow whose purse strings are connected to his penis, though, to speed you along."

"No. If I accept commissions as an artist, it will not be to finish my marque. My marque is finished, except for the inking. Then I am dismissed," Alienor says with a little sigh. She looks sad for a moment. "Aren't they all like that? The young ones, at least. Thinking with their …penis." She takes a deep breath, as if it were awkward to say the word. "Putting their money towards satisfying it."

"Clearly somebody's taken a shine to you, then," Philomène notes, cuffing water from her brow with a casual swat of her sleeve. "I recall your debut at the tail end of last year. I remember telling Adeline to at least give you one good evening before the drooling masses descended. Personally I've very little time for young men, but then I don't make a living from them, unless they particularly enjoy our bacon. Show me?" she insists, beckoning the woman over, despite the rain, with an impatient gesture, then a quick flick of her fingertip towards the sketch to indicate exactly what she wants shown.

Alienor glances up at the rain for a moment, then presses the sketchbook to her chest, scurrying over. She lifts out her veil to use it as a rain shield for the sketchbook, which has some quick but fairly accurate pencil outlines of the poses that Philomène was doing. There are no details, just the shape of the body, just the sense of motion of the body, without reference to features or frailties. "I have been wondering if I might manage to make a living from my art," she admits softly.

"You likely want a more reliable trade on the side," Philomène suggests practically, tilting the sketchbook a little so she can more easily see. "The market for art is more limited than, for example, the market for wheat, or for a good plumber." Her grey eyes, the colour of the clouds looming above them, fix on Alienor, narrowed and shrewd. "Service to Naamah doesn't suit? I can understand that. Which means either you need to snag a well-connected husband to climb your way up, or you need to look out for yourself. Both have their drawbacks. Finish this, all twelve, and I'll buy the set," she decides, nudging the book back closer to the other woman. "Accurate lines, mind, none of your fanciful crap. It's for training, not plastering on walls to look pretty. I have a… nephew, who would benefit from studying the forms before he's much older."

"I have had some negative experiences," Alienor replies simply regarding the bit about service to Naamah. "I may reconsider in time, I suppose, though." She perks up at the opportunity to draw, and she pulls the sketchbook back to her chest. "Accurate lines, my lady, of course. There's no need to be fanciful when one wishes to represent reality. I shall copy the forms faithfully as you show them, though if you tire, we can certainly schedule a time at which to finish." She seems pleased, though, smiling at the older woman with charming sincerity.

Philomène does not return even a hint of a smile, lips pressed into a firm line which does nothing but accentuate every angle of her face. "And you think I'm likely to tire why, precisely?" comes the question, eyes glittering dangerously as she leans in a little closer, all the better to use her height to advantage.

"I just wish you to know that I am open to the option, my lady," Alienor replies with a little curtsey, then steps backwards out of the way so that Philomène can go through her motions again. A judicious retreat, it seems. And this way the sketchbook will stay drier.

If anything, Philomène looks displeased as the woman backs away from her, brows furrowing and nostrils flaring for a moment in irritation. It's almost as though she prefers a confrontation or something. "Draw," she states flatly, although whether it's an instruction to the young artist or herself is unclear, as she settles her weight back and in a single, flowing, economical movement reminiscent of fine dance, brings both hands up and past the grips of both blades at her belt, uncrosses her arms and holds, motionless in an imaginary high guard. "First position." If one were to imagine the blades in her hands rather than snugly away in their homes at her waist, it would be a fearsome look. Not the flourishing and footwork of the professional duellist, but the trained economy of a watchful soldier who might expect to have to do this all day long.

There is no need for confrontation, at least in Alienor's mind, and she resumes her work with relish, her face stern with concentration. It is clear that the young girl is interested in the subject matter, however out of her sphere it may be. She makes a note that this is the first position, and she records faithfully the positions that Philomène assumes one after the other, with simple lines.

And with every movement, Philomène's scowl lessens. Sure, she still fixes Alienor with a steady, piercing gaze until she indicates that she's ready for the next, but the comforting familiarity of the old drills, so ingrained into the Camaeline that she barely need think where her hands and feet and elbows and knees ought to be next, seem to soothe the old warrior. Initially simply barking out the number of the position, by the time she's on the fourth or fifth, she's beginning to give more information. Things to look out for. Counters. And by the time she hits the tenth and eleventh, she's explaining in more detail yet, even with one or two anecdotes from an old soldier she credits as having taught her when she was very young. And still the rain stops and starts, a brief shower followed by a glimpse of sunshine, then another two or three minutes of rain. "When I was your age," she recalls, "I always thought I'd spend my life doing this. Training. Riding. Fighting. Doesn't always turn out exactly as you plan, though, does it?"

"Yes, well, I imagined I'd spend my life as a courtesan, and then things happened, and now I'm looking for other options. And I only had to get to my age for someone to drive my life wildly off-course," Alienor replies with a mirthless laugh as she continues to copy the positions, quickly but as accurately as possible. And though her sketches are simple, the pauses for information and anecdotes give her time to scrawl notes in the margins. And occasionally adjust the poses for the right emphasis.

Philomène lunges forward, the position slightly adjusted from the textbook version, and the trembling she can't stop in her injured leg indicates the reason why. "Have you ever seen a smith at work? The more they heat and hammer and forge the metal, the stronger it becomes." She lifts her chin proudly, imaginary blade deep in an imaginary foe. "Same with people. Weak people sail through life with no problems. They never need to become strong."

Alienor politely ignores the tremble in the art, as there's no need to represent it, but she looks pleased with the shape of the work anyway. She is learning things about sword forms in drawing them that she will likely never ever put into practice, but it is interesting to learn and satisfies her boundless curiosity. "I bend, but I will not break," she declares after a moment, taking a deep breath. "But I reserve the right to cry in private sometimes when I remember."

"Not," Philomène insists, as she finally draws back up into the first position, "in public. Never let the bastards know where they can hurt you."

"He shouldn't have hurt me. But he did, and I will take measures so that it never happens again. This is why I cannot be a White Rose any longer," Alienor explains, though her eyes are on her sketchbook, focused on her work. She's covered several pages in sketches and notes, writing furiously quickly.

Philomène drops both imaginary blades, instead running her hand through damp hair to push it back from her face. "I'm not going to ask what measures you intend to take," she notes quietly, rolling her shoulders again and, when she thinks Alienor isn't looking, taking a moment to press her thumbs hard into the muscles at the top of her squint left leg to try to ease whatever pain is currently shooting up from there. "But whatever you do, make sure you can live with it. What skills do you have beyond drawing and looking delicate? Are you looking for real work, or are you just throwing ideas around for now?"

Alienor considers this for a moment. "Drawing and looking delicate are largely my main skills, unfortunately. I have also been schooled in politics and the social arts, such as persuasion," she replies seriously, nodding once. "I have an interest in fashion, but no ability to sew or anything like that. I would like real work, but I am also uncertain as to what I am suited for, so I am exploring my options." She makes an effort not to notice Philomène's left leg in the least.

"You'd have been better off learning to be a plumber," Philomène insists once again, exhaling, "or a seamstress, or a cooper. How about plants? Plenty of gardens in Marsilikos need tending."

"I really don't like being dirty," Alienor admits, shifting uncomfortably and looking down at her hands for a moment. She's very neatly managed to keep them fastidiously clean of the pencil and her nails are perfectly manicured. "I like gardens, but largely to draw the flowers rather than to sit in the dirt."

Philomène gives a small, derisive snort at that, pulling her sodden robes closer around her. "If you can draw flowers, talk to the marquist. See if she'll train you in that. No shortage of eager young courtesans about, all chomping at the bit to paint a flower on their back."

"I could do that," Alienor reflects with a little nod, thoughtful. "If she'd like to have an apprentice. I shall look into it, thank you." She bobs another polite little curtsey, then glances to the weather again before venturing closer to Philomène to show of her sketches and her notes.

Philomène flicks through the sketches with one slender finger, scrutinising each in turn for any flaws. Her lips purse a little on one or two, and she taps the page. "This should be tighter in to the body here," she notes, daring Alienor to challenge her. Because of course it's the sketch that's wrong, and nothing to do with the necessary adjustments to the standard form that Philomène has subconsciously learned to make. "Take them, finish them, and deliver them to me when they're done. My house is on the Rue de Port. Send word ahead of you with your price and I'll see there's coin for you."

"Yes, of course. Tighter into the body. I shall keep that in mind," Alienor replies with an easy smile, making a little note of it. "I shall clean them and finish them and deliver them to you soon. "It is good to know when you have comments so that I may alter the sketches properly." She neither takes the blame nor places it.

"And you should probably get inside," Philomène adds, glancing to the sky. "Half an hour and it'll be pouring down, and you don't want to be caught out in it wearing white." Says she, who's been getting steadily wetter in the on and off showers in her pale cream robes. She gives a simple nod, then turns, limping away down the path and out of the garden gates with that peculiar gait of hers, back straight and head held high. No polite 'good bye' or thanks for the sketches, nor even a name to attach to the verbal contract. But then again, given that even small children of Marsilikos now threaten one another with 'Lady Philomène will get you', perhaps formal introductions aren't entirely necessary.

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