(1312-06-13) Expanding Horizons
Summary: Marguerite comes upon Alienor enjoying Ephesian pleasures at La Perle Noire, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship.
RL Date: Sat Jun 13, 1312
Related: Until the Rain.
marguerite alienor 

La Perle Noire — Grand Plaza

The face this establishment shows to the Grand Plaza is a window display of coffee beans in a fantastic blown-glass vase, against figured silk which changes with the seasons; and a pair of heavy oaken doors guarded by a swarthy, bearded, well-muscled man in Ephesian costume, who bows patrons out of Terre d'Ange and into a foreign land redolent of fine coffee and cinnamon and tobacco, lit by countless candles suspended each in a gleaming glass lantern from a ceiling that billows with ruby-red silk and cloth of gold. Layered carpets of many colours, intricately woven and warmed in winter by a hypocaust, soften the music of pipes and drums and mandolins that filters through this sanctuary of civilised pleasures. Here a friendship might be forged or renewed, a deal struck, or a day simply whiled away in Eastern opulence and ease, amidst the red and the gold and the smoke.

In the middle of the main lounge is a raised circular stage upon which an horologist's glass marks the lapse of two hours between performances by Ephesian dancing girls, or minstrels singing joyously in the tongue of that land, or even a local d'Angeline bard telling tall tales. Low tables of dark wood radiate therefrom, surrounded by lounging cushions and richly-upholstered divans; the outermost are set in alcoves which may for privacy's sake be screened by shimmering silken curtains. If one desires amusement, one may summon at any hour alluring dancers whose brass finger-cymbals chime to accent the undulations of their hips. If one wishes to smoke, one may command a water pipe. But the true business of the house is the coffee. Perfumed young men in loose trousers and embroidered tunics move to and fro like angels dispensing this liquid mercy: strong, fragrant, frothing kahve, brewed cup by cup from the fine-ground black pearls of Ephesium, served in elaborate copper vessels beside tall glasses of pure spring water and plates of esoteric and delectable foreign sweetmeats.

Several sets of doors at the rear of the lounge lead away to the kitchens; to a stairway ascending toward smaller chambers which may be reserved for private parties; and outside into a courtyard, open in fair weather.

The coffee here is truly special, Ephesian kahve served by expert young men, who bring it out on special trays in small copper cups. Sometimes, a server will show off, spinning his tray in a circle over his head without spilling a drop of the kahve or disrupting the exact placement of the cup at the center of the tray. Exotic treats are served here as well, including slices of the incredibly sweet dessert kunefe, a sort of unsalted cheese disk that has been covered in shredded kadayif soaked in a honey-like lemon-touched syrup with spices, served hot so that the cheese melts deliciously.

Alienor has a small serving of dessert and a cup of coffee at hand, and she is sitting where she can listen to a performer play Emphesian music. She is clearly savoring both the kunefe and the kahve, and she looks almost blissful. Even in her loose white gown and veil, with her chaperone and her guard standing sternly nearby.

The young lady of Chalasse did like quality kahve and she had received word that there was a place within the city with the kahve and atmosphere that she would find to her liking. Thus, a journey was made with two guards in tow to La Perle Noir. Entering the establishment, the young woman auses in the doorway a moment, taking in her surroundings and surveying the patrons who have chosen to also enjoy a fine cup of kahve and some treats. Apparently, it all seems to be acceptable for her and with a careful step and perfect posture the young woman ventures further in.

The place is rather full, much more so then she had previously assessed and it would appear that Marguerite is having a difficult time finding a place to her liking. That seat is two close to those people, this one is to close to the music. Not to close door. It is then that she spies Alienor, this time not hiding behind a tree, but sitting at a table by herself.

A small sigh is given and she succombs ot the fact that this is the best option, pausing by her table and inclining her head with a sweet smile. "Good evening. Forgive me I have forgotten your name…you were hiding behind a tree. Is this chair spoken for?"

"I am Alienor nó Rose Sauvage," the girl in white says, looking up at Marguerite with a bit of surprise, roused from her reverie, and she scrambles to her feet for an awkward curtsey that is largely constrained by the divan upon which she was sitting near her low table. "Please, my lady, join me." And then she politely waits for the noblewoman to sit down nearby her, and she attempts to get the attention of one of the handsome young servers in the meantime so that he might wait on her newly arrived companion.

As proper as she is, there is a slight widening of her eyes as the woman rises to curtsey to her. I mean she does not wave it off, but it simply was not expected. She offers a polite smile and inclines her head. "Marguerite Adele de Chalasse. My father…" She trails off, leaving that part off and looking over to one of her guards a simple brow raised and a notion to the chair. The guard makes his way over and pulls a small white cloth out from his breast, wiping the seat off. He steps back with a small bow, the chair now to her liking to sit. "Thank you. This place is adequate. The music is a nice touch. The people seem to bathe and from what I can tell the food and kahve seems to the public's liking. WHat do you suggest"

"Kunefe, if you like a little something sweet," Alienor recommends as she reseats herself carefully and delicately, folding her hands in her lap neatly for a moment while she waits for Marguerite to get settled. "And, of course, the kahve. Brewed to order, special for you, of course." She tilts her head demurely, and her smile is sweet, even through her veil, which is thin and diaphanous.

One of the handsome servers does make his way over to the table, pausing beside it and peering down at the young Lady. Shoulders back and proper eye contact is given as Marguerite softly places her order. "I will would like Kunefe and a cup of your finest kahve. Not too hot, I would like ot be able to drink it upon its arrival." The server nods once and departs, aloowing Marguerite to put her attention back on Alienor fully. "Do you do that often? Hide behind trees in the gardens?" The act obviously is still on her mind from the previous night. "I mean…if you do that is fine. I just found it a bit..odd.'

"Raimbaut was being silly. He's still a novice. He doesn't talk. It's part of him being shy and innocent," Alienor explains with a measure of amusement, smiling demurely at Marguerite now. "And he wanted me to play, too. He's afraid we won't get to play much, when I leave the Rose Sauvage, and he will have a long way to go, since they've had to reschedule his debut due to moving to La Rose Blanche. He dreams of a beautiful and worldly noblewoman winning his debut and introducing him to beauty he imagines is service to Naamah." She looks down and away, then, occupying herself with picking up her cup of kahve. She sips from it agilely, drawing her veil out of the way so that it doesn't get dirty.

The kahve and treat are delivered, set down on the table with a shallow bow and a departure. The kahve is picked up and small sip taken, speaking from over the rim of the cup to her companion. "Oh it was play. I fear I am not really sure what /play/ looks like. I shall have to take your word for it." The cup is set down and the food is sampled, a small nibble taken n a most proper fashion. "This is quite tasty. I shall have to procure some of this for the Residence. Do they sell it it large quantities I wonder?"

Her lashes fall slightly, smiling to Alienor."I will not pretend to say I understand the protoco and intertwinings of the various Night Courts. However, if he is a good friend of yours I do wish him luck in fulfilling his dream of finding eternal happiness. That is what he is after correct?"

"Yes, I hope that he is not disappointed," Alienor replies with a bittersweet smile that she largely hides behind her copper cup. She takes a deep breath as she sets it down once more and nods to Marguerite's assessment of the dessert. "I'm so glad that you like it. It's very good, I think." She considers a moment. "Do you have hobbies, then?"

"Hobbies? Like you mean things to do in my free time? Well, let me think. I…sometimes. Well no. Not really. Ever so often I will find myself…no not even that." There is a furrowing of her brow as she tries to think of something she does for pleasure, having a hard time doing so. She takes a sip of her drink to buy herself some time. "Does brushing my hair count? Or matching my outfits with my accessories?" She sheems to think like her ideas are valid, getting somewhat excited as she adds one ore. "Ooh I know. Carriage rides. I do love a carriage ride in ovely weather." She tilts her head to the side and softly adds. "Not what you meant was it?"

"Fashion is an interest of mine, but I was thinking more like embroidery or riding or sketching or dancing," Alienor replies thoughtfully. "Do you read a lot of books, perhaps? What do you enjoy doing? Surely there are things that bring you pleasure." She gives Marguerite a rather earnest and sincere look.

"I…I…do dance yes. Well at soiress and socail balls or other gathering of importance. It is expected. It is not something I do otherwise unless I am learning a new dance from my instructors." She reaches and takes another bite of the food, chewing it softly and pondering again. "I like writing. I do a lot of the scribe work for my father and his official documents and the like. I am well trained in calligraphy and the flourish script is something he has become quite accustomed to and now expects." The kahve is raised, but a sip not taken just yet. "If fashion is an interest of yours, I may have some dresses you may be interested in. They are last years style, but nobody here is going to know the differene I wuold suspect. They might require a bit of tailoring, but you are welcome to take a look sometime. I am not going to wear them again."

"What? Really? Oh, I'd love that. I've only worn white for as long as I can remember. I'm really thrilled for the opportunity to wear other colors," Alienor admits with a measure of enthusiasm, clearly not one to turn down secondhand dresses from a wealthy noblewoman. "So you write, then? Do you write any fiction, or just functional prose? Are you a poet, perhaps? Though some of my favorite books have essentially been long essays on human nature, I admit."

Charity? She would not admit that. "Of course. Let me know when you wish to come by the Chlasse residence and I can show them to you. There are a few you might find to your liking. If someone else chooses to get some use out of them, all the better. I do have this lovely yellow one that shines like the sun that would contrast your hair quite well." She offers a smile and this one actually seems genuine. She is not always a spoiled bitch. People actually have spoken quite highly of her at times. "When I say write..it is more in a journal of sorts. The occasional poem..but those are quite rare." She looks about the establishment and then leans in speaking a bit softer. "I also read a lot about regional politics and the like. Nothing puts me to sleep faster, but I know it is only going to benefit my assistance to my father."

It's more of an informal assignation without a contract, since such is not permitted at this juncture. Alienor provides companionship and Marguerite provides gifts. Even secondhand dresses count. It's all about spin. The young courtesan flutters her long dark lashes at the young noblewoman, pleased and charmed. "I love yellow," she admits brightly. "It's one of my favorite colors. I shall look forward to calling on you at the Chalasse residence soon, then." She considers a moment. "Journaling is very helpful. I have kept a journal lately, to help me sort through my feelings as I try to sort out my future. I've one more session with the marquist, and then I shall be released from the salon."

"Send word to the residence a day prior to when you hope to visit and I will see to it that lunch is provided as well. You can look through the dresses and have a lunch that will not require you too eat dinner that evening." Another smile is given at it is quite apparent that this type of interaction with what she could cosnider the beginning of a friendship is something that is relatively new to the young Lady. "Freedom. It does open a world of oppurtunity for you. A blank sheet of parchment for you to write your future as you see fit. You must be quite overwhelmed."

"It's quite overwhelming to lose the only home I really remember, with the only people who have really been anything like family to me, yes," Alienor admits with a shy nod, dropping her gaze demurely. "And I am not entirely certain how I shall support myself. But I am young and I am determined, and I will be fine. I have supportive friends." She looks pleased at this idea of lunch and dresses, though, and she certainly likes the idea of a friend, even if there is a power differential. "What will you do with your future, my lady? Shall you try to find a husband here, perhaps?"

"Change is never easy Alienor. That is why it is change. It is going against what is normal and expected. Yet, change is what move you forward in life. If not, one becomes complacent and happy with their lot in life. If they are lucky, they are happy." SHe reaches for her cup once more, taking another sip. "What will I do with my future? Well that remains to be seen. My future now is to remain in the city and see to my father's interests why he attends to the Duchy in Clermont. As for a husband? I fear that choice may not entirely be mine. My father is going to have a say in that. There is no way that daddy's little girl is going to be marrie doff to someone who does not meet his approval. Hopefully my future husband will meet mine."

"Well, there are plenty of wealthy noblemen around here, some of them landed. Some of them heirs. In my experience, they'll be happy to tell you exactly how rich and powerful they are and/or will be someday. Of course, when one is working as a courtesan, one is less interested in the power and the someday," Alienor admits with a soft laugh, blushing in spite of herself.

The is a dismissive hand gesture given by the young woman. "They can tell me whatever they want. When they are boasting then I will choose to listen. I know the type walking around with their chests puffed out like a bunch of barnyard roosters. It is part of the game Alienor. Sme of them are worth your time. Others are merely riding the last name given to them at birth and trying to live up to their father's expectations. I have seen them all." She takes a longer sip of the coffee and lowers the cup gently back to the table. "Behind every good man is a better woman Alienor. It would be good for you to remember that. My mother is a living testament to that. If I am lucky I will be married to a man with considerable position, but the backbone of slug."

"When I told the Dowayne that I was no longer going to …let patrons bruise my petals, he told me that I was no longer fit to be a White Rose," Alienor murmurs quietly, as if this is a terrible secret that she wishes only Marguerite to hear. She takes a deep breath and has a careful bite of her kunefe, which is tricky because kunefe is by design quite sticky and she is wearing a pure white veil that is kept fastidiously clean. "If I continue, I shall expand my horizons," she says quietly. "I shall be innocent, but maybe a little stabby if they get a little too pushy. I wonder if the Dowager Vicomtesse would teach me more about stabbing…"

"Again, I know little of the inner-workings of the various houses so I shall not begin to critiscize or speak to them whatsoever. I have learned that those to speak of these they know little about make themselves look the fool." A small sip is taken, the cup not set down this time, held elegantly between her fingers. "Perhaps she will. I do not know this Dowager persoanlly of which you speak, if only by name. I would take each day as it comes. Leaping of the cliff without checking first what lies below can lead to a very unpleasant situation."

"Yes, that's true. I admit that I rather like floating ideas and seeing how they sound," Alienor replies with a cute little shrug, smiling rather girlishly for a moment. She reaches for her kahve and sips it daintily, watching the noblewoman with a curious if demure gaze. "I still have to visit the marquist again, and then we shall see what awaits me. I am excited, though. I am excited for it."

Marguerite checks her posture once more, making she she is sitting tall and not slouching a smile returned with her words. She reaches a hand out and lightly taps the back of Alienor's. "You are justified in your excitment. Any change that you feel is going to make you happier is certainly cause for excitment. Take my words with a grain of salt. Do not let me stop you from dreaming. I have no doubt tha in the end you will find yourself in a place where you are most pleased with the decisions you have made." The cup in her hand is rasied for a longer sip this time. "You have set things in motion and everyday that passes is one step closer to what you seek."

Having an irritated back has made Alienor's posture practically perfect lately, and she beams at Marguerite with pleasure. "I hope that you also can find things that make you happy. I would be delighted to show you around the city a bit," she offers brightly. "I have been exploring for the past two weeks, and some of the things I have found very pleasant. I spend almost every morning at the Temple of Naamah, praying and speaking with one of the priestesses there, and she has encouraged me to keep a journal, which I have."

"I have things that make me happy. Well, for the meantime at least. You see, happiness is relatvie to the individual. What makes one person hapy, does not necessarily make another. We live in two differnt worlds Alienor. I will never fully understand yours and I do not expect you to understand mine. Yet at the same time there are things in our worlds that overlap. ANd it is those things that I think will find us developing a friendship during my time here in the city. Perhaps I shall take you up on this city tour when time permits. I have been wishing to familiarize myself."

"Yes, I'm sure you're very busy adjusting to your new home and getting everything settled just the way you like it," Alienor agrees amicably, nodding to this easily enough. "I like to make people happy, though, when I can. And I don't mean… erm, I mean, you know, happy. Joyful. Really enjoying things."

Marguerite does get the reference and there is a small flushing of her cheeks, trying to keep her expressions in check. "Well I thank you in advance. It is not everyday that I meet someone who can tolerate me for more than ten minutes. I don't blame them. I just simply do not mold myself to what they want like a piece of clay. What you see is what you get. If you do not like it, then so be it." She takes a long sip of the kahve, finishing it and setting the cup don upon the table. She reaches into a small pocket purse and pulls out a few coins, setting them on the table. "This should cover both our orders. Accept it. I will not allow you not to." There is a smile given.

"It would be rude not to graciously thank you for your generosity and hospitality," Alienor replies with a pretty smile for the other young woman. "So I do. Thank you for the kahve and the kunefe, and I look forward to spending time with you in the future. Sincerely. You should not judge yourself so harshly, even if others have. You are you, and that is who you are, and may the world love you for who you are, a scion of angels."

"I have done things I regret and others I simply do not. I am quite sure I will do many more. I always get what I want." She slowly rises from the chair, smoothing her hands over her dress and inclinig her had with a half smile. "It has been a pleasure Alienor. Please, take me up on my offer for lunch. I will personally see to it that you are not disappointed." She gives a respectful nod to her escorts and prepares to go.

"Thank you so much for the pleasure of your company, Lady Marguerite, and I look forward to spending time with you again in the future," Alienor replies, rising as the lady does so that she may offer her a parting curtsey with a soft but friendly smile.

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