(1312-06-22) New Paths Converge
Summary: La Perle Noire is ever the scene of meetings, partings, unexpected but fortuitous conversations, horse-trading, flirtation, and damn good coffee.
RL Date: 22/06/2020
Related: Acquired Tastes.
alienor jehan-pascal odile perrin safiye 

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.


(beginning is missing, please add if you have it)

Perrin and Jehan-Pascal are seated at one of the tables, discussing the merits of the coffee they are both drinking. The shop is not very busy, so the two men's voices can be heard from a small distance. Perrin had just inquired, "Have you experienced that sort of craving with anything else that we could compare the near physical suffering with the absence of kafve with? Or something else that energizes you in a similar manner, perhaps?" of the man across the table from him.

Dressed in a very fine but very conservative gown in a creamy off-white color, with a diaphanous white veil covering her hair and her face, at least partially, yet with a crown of brilliant fresh daisies pinned in that dark hair, Alienor makes her way into the Ephesian cafe with an air of comfortable familiarity. She is not an unfamiliar figure to the servers, though, and at least one pauses to flirt quietly with her before she laughs softly and makes her way to a table coincidentally not far from where the two men sit.

Jehan-Pascal has, indeed, and could draw comparisons. "I'm very partial to wine, in fact. It's not quite the same…" he's watching a hundred words pop around half-behind his eyelids before settling on, "Effrenate sensation, but it produces a quite cordial lubrication of mind and body without which I must admit I feel rather dull," he produces for comparison, "And, on occasion of going without for quite a number of days, rather worse than dull." His eyes are drawn to the White Rose (he supposes, her veil obscuring her to the degree that he can only recognize her by her garb) now in attendance, but they don't linger there overlong. "What about you? You mentioned earlier this beverage's contrast in wholesomeness to that of spirits, and I did intend to question you on your meaning, there."

Perrin waves a hand dismissively, "Don't be so modest. We've managed to strike up a conversation within moments of meeting that is more stimulating than any I've had in months… While admittedly, I have spent quite some time preparing to move here and most of my conversations involved the transportation of animals and boxes. Not the fiercest of competition in the field of invigorating conversation." He takes another sip of his coffee before following Jahen-Pascal's gaze to the lovely young woman in the white gown. He offers her a small smile, despite being not quite seeming confident that he caught her eye. Veils, they make it even more of a struggle. He looks back to his table companion and says, "I was thinking along the same lines. Wine and spirits tend to make me more talkative, however in a more of a slurred voice than the kahve has given me. A good whiskey can be breathed in much the same way and enjoyed to some of the same extent as this… However, the warmth of the mug, I believe makes a world of difference for me."

Alienor does offer a beautiful smile to the two men, offering Jehan-Pascal a perfectly executed and demure curtsey before turning her gaze to his companion. Her eyes linger on Perrin for a moment, until she's sure she's caught his eye, and then she drops her gaze in a demure manner that somehow manages to be a little flirtatious. She slips onto the divan she has chosen gracefully and comfortably to wait for her kahve to be brought.

"Well, how much is me and how much of the kahve… that's the question of the day," Jehan-Pascal grins into the rim of his kahve cup, then drinks it down. "And now that I've been woken up, I'd better run home, I've got to transcribe some of these figures into my correspondence and get them on the road so they can get to Avignon tonight." He's got to take a moment to get his boots back on, though, and he'll take a moment to glance between Perrin and Alienor, "A White Rose in the wild," he grins at Perrin. "Why don't you ask her over? The White Roses of Marsilikos are unparalleled companions. And you and I— we'll have to see one another again soon. We're redoing our suite in the Baphinol residence in town, just now, but we'll be ready for company, soon, and are at least able to accept correspondence there. What about you, where can I send word?" he wonders.

Perrin cannot help but smile at the girl's lovely smile and mild flirtation. He comments to Jehan-Pascal, "It is nice to be in Marsilikos again. I had not been here in several years. I had almost forgotten the charm, and this place had not even existed on my last visit", referring to the coffee shop. Then his new friend makes to leave and he stands to send him off, "I have only just moved to the city and plan to stay for a time. I have arranged to stay at the Somerville residence here in the noble district. It may be a day or two before anyone there remembers the younger son of a younger daughter, however any missive will find me in short order I am sure. It was nice to meet you Jehan-Pascal, and I hope our paths cross again soon." He looks then to the young woman that Jehan-Pascal had spoken of. He gives her another friendly look before giving his attention to the departing man once more. He says, "Good drinks and good company, both a way to start a day off well. Be well."

It's only a mild flirtation for Alienor feels the need to be modest and demure. Indeed, her dress covers more than most summer dresses in warm Marsilikos might, and she looks absolutely delighted with the cup of kahve that the server brings her, laughing brightly at his compliments and teasing. And then he leaves her be, and she keeps her own company calmly, enjoying the hot coffee.

Jehan-Pascal closes his book and lifts it up under his arm as he stands, boots finally laced back into place. He looks up and halts, charmed, slightly, that Perrin stands to see him off, and he steps in and applies an amiable kiss farewell to Perrin's cheek, patting him on the shoulder and then drawing back to grin. "I'll send word soon. We'll have dinner or something," he suggests brightly. "Until then!" he peeps brightly, heading on past and out, leaving the Somerville Lord to get to know the White Rose (alum).

Perrin turns his attention to Alienor after Jehan-Pascal takes his leave. He mistakenly says, "Rose, I assume?" incorrectly guessing her name after his table companion had called her the White Rose. He says, "Please forgive me, I have never been the most graceful when saying goodbye to one and hello to another within the same breath." He motions towards the recently vacated seat across from him and asks, "Would you care for some company? I would be most pleased if you would deem to join me." He remains standing as he offers for her to join him. It seems standing while saying hello or goodbye is a thing for him.

"Alienor nó Rose Sauvage," the girl replies, giving her name and her association, though the way her hair is combed allows the nape of her neck to be seen, and there is the courtesan's marque, descending down her back and largely hidden by her gown. She smiles at him, studying him for a moment with gray-green eyes that are shaded by her extremely thin veil but certainly not truly hidden by it, and when she decides that has lingered long enough, she drops her gaze to her kahve cup. "It would be an honor, my lord," she assures him, scooping up the copper mug in a fluid motion and heading over to join him.

Perrin looks up at the ceiling for just the briefest moment as if exasperated by his own embarrassing mistake. He says, "Of course, forgive me. It seems that I choose to woo you with a buffoon’s wit from the start." He holds both hands open and shows her a disarming smile. He then extends one hand to offer her assistance in standing and moving to the other side of the table to join him. As she moves from one table to the other, he introduces himself with the same formality she had shown, "I am Perrin de Somerville. I am charmed to make your acquaintance."

"Yet you have done a more charming job of wooing than many a young lord who has felt the need to try to catch a bit of my attention, so you ought not feel shame," Alienor replies with a soft and generous smile, letting him touch her hand so that he can seat her at the new table. "Lord Perrin, it is a pleasure. La Perle Noire is such a delight, don't you think? Would you like to share kunefe with me? It is my favorite dessert and a delightful Ephesian dish. But not, I may note, Ephesian delight. Which is also a dessert. And also delicious."

Perrin inclines his head and says, "You truly are as kind as you are lovely, thank you. I would very much like to share a kunefe with you." He turns to get the attention of a serving man who is surprisingly close and he actually starts a little. He does this little eye-shift where he's like 'did anyone else see that?' but only asks, "Would you like a drink as well? Have you already ordered one?" With your help, the order is placed and his attention is given to you once more. He says, "I had never been here, and while I have been served kahve before, it was a pale comparison to what they serve here. I was lured in by the scent and I believe I may find myself becoming a loyal patron… However, I have never tried anything else that they serve, so I am looking forward to the kunefe. What better way to start a new page in your story then good company, a good drink and a delicious dessert?"

"Ah, thank you, my lord," Alienor replies with a pretty smile, watching the man when she thinks he's not looking and dropping her gaze demurely when he clearly is. She seems innocent, of course, as that's the White Rose thing, and she also seems quite pleased. "Yes, I find that trying new things can be very exciting. Some do not have quite my taste for Ephesian things, after all."

Perrin picks his coffee mug up once again and leans back in his seat so that he holds the mug in both hands. He has large callous hands, so there does not seem much concern about dropping it. Rather, he seems to almost hold the mug in a meditative way that hints that he finds comfort in the warmth of the mug. He admits, "I have had nearly as many successes as I have had failures when trying something new, however if you only do what you have already done, it would be a very boring life, and no one would get good at anything." He looks towards the kitchen area before saying, "I am not honestly sure if that particular nugget of wisdom really applies to new kinds of food, but I will pretend to be profound, if you will indulge me."

"I am getting very good at kahve, then," Alienor replies with a laugh, perfectly willing to indulge him, smiling her modest and demure smile at him. "Are you then favored of White Roses, then? Following the Alyssum canon, there is always a sense of innocence in our encounters, of newness and of novelty. Does that sort of thing interest you?"

Perrin looks to the veiled beauty across from him and opens his mouth to speak, however the serving man arrives and places the kunefe between the two of them and takes a moment to arrange smaller plates and to serve Alienor a fresh mug of coffee, and to even replace Perrin's luke warm mug with a fresh on. He nods his thanks to the man and waits for him to depart once more before he answers her question, "With eyes averted." He considers that for a moment before smiling and admitting, "I believe that there is a charm that is undeniable in the Alyssum canon. Somehow wholesome and …mischievous" He settles on the word after a pause, however his expression hints that he is not overly pleased with his ability to capture the spirit of the White Rose within a few words. He once again shows her his empty callused palm as if silently admitting he is incapable of truly describing one such as her with words. He does repeat, "An undeniable charm."

Truthfully, most canons can be summed up in but a few words yet have great complexity lying under the surface, and Alienor does not seem to mind his summary in the least. She laughs, instead, a kind and playful laugh, and her smile is a bit impish as she enjoys her kahve. "I am trying to reinvent myself a little," she admits, studying her cup for a moment. "I have finished my marque and separated from the salon to be independent. But I am interested to know what potential patrons might enjoy with me. What would interest you?"

Perrin takes one of the previously cut kunefe onto the smaller plate and samples it. He seems just a little unsure, yet daring enough to not bother with a smaller bite in order to merely test. He chews for a moment and his sharp blue eyes hint that he is not completely sure what the hell he just stuck in his mouth. He does not seem at all concerned by this though and even gives her a bit of a grin as he chews a bit more before swallowing and asking, "What is this made of?" the texture and sweetness of the cheese are so foreign that he seems to have no idea. He does add, "I like it. Whatever it is." When she reveals that she has completed her marque, he lifts an eyebrow and peers a little closer. The veil does not shadow her so much that he is not able to guess her age. He seems to know his face revealed his reaction well enough, so he leans into that and does not attempt to hide it. Instead he says, "You are quite young to have achieved your marque, however I should not be surprised, you are quite lovely." To her question, he considers for a moment before saying, "My dear, I have often wondered that myself… During the dark hours of the night." He gives her a playful wink at the joke, obviously trying to get her to laugh, or at least show her smile once again. He goes on to say, "If you would allow me to draw the most vague of parallels between you and I… When I was your age, I sold the first horse I had bred and I was a rising star within a very small world. Shortly after, I had some things happen that made me feel as if while I was doing some things incredibly right, I was also miserably lost with some others… I stayed with my family and stuck with what I knew until I sorted myself out… I suppose that is a small piece of advice, in that there is no man that lays eyes on you that would not feel a desire to lift your chin and draw your eyes up to meet theirs."

"It is shredded dough, unsalted cheese, and syrup," Alienor explains as she reaches to take a forkful of the kunefe herself. There's a sense of lemon and rose water to it, too, delicate aromas and intricate flavors, and crumbled pistachio is on top. She licks a bit of the sticky from her lips and smiles in a rather contented sort of way, savoring the dessert.

"I understand completely," Alienor agrees after a moment, nodding once and raising her eyes to him for a moment, thoughtful. "I am a bit adrift, but I am learning new things, and that presents its own pleasures. I would like to take a more active role in encounters, I admit. I want to play at saying 'no', so that my patrons can appeal to me, and I can reward them with a 'yes'. Would that please you, my lord?"

Perrin leans back in his seat once more and cups his mug in both hands once more. Lifting it to his lips and taking a moment to breathe in the aroma before taking a small sip. While his features give him a rough appearance, it seems almost to contradict his manner, at least in this moment. He seems to have taken this pause in the conversation to consider her words and finally nods his head and says, "I believe that would please me. I do not consider myself an expert in all things, however I do think that some coy reluctance might well suit a White Rose, and having already completed your marque it seems as if maybe you could experiment with things, such as your suggestion, that might not be completely within the canon, while still not abandoning what you know. While innocence is lovely, the curiosity of the inexperienced would also likely stop a few hearts for a moment. Surely training leaves you more educated than most of your clients, however those dark eyes could probably sell the fantasy quite well." He considers for a moment before lifting one shoulder and admitting, "I do wonder if my suggestion is so trivial with your knowledge that I might sound like the innocent." Again he gives an easy smile.

"It's not," Alienor assures him with sincerity and a little shake of her head as she regards Perrin for a moment before letting herself get coyly distracted by the kunefe that they are sharing. "It's not trivial at all, really. I still feel terribly inexperienced, and since most of my assignations as an Adept were arranged for me by the Second, I haven't gotten to really communicate with potential patrons about their expectations or mine. And I'm very interested in the ability to do that now, without the pressure to make my marque."

The girl reaches out a hand to lightly lay her fingertips on Perrin's hand like the touch of a feather, soft and smooth. And somehow, it feels like a bold gesture from one garbed in such a sheltered manner. It lingers just a moment, and then she reaches for her kahve and sips it, breaking contact, her gray eyes watching him over the copper mug.

The pair sit together at a table, properly separated, with a plate of kunefe between them and a cup of kahve each.

Perrin doesn't seem to understand at first, "How…" he begins then quiets himself and takes another sip of his kahve. After a long moment he asks, "Who was the lord or lady that gave such a generous gift to contribute so much towards your marque? I dare say that they may be the one to ask these questions of… However I suspect they enjoy your company without needing you to change much too quickly." His relaxed smile showing that while this young woman across from him seems to be full of surprises, he is at least enjoying the conversation. He asks, "Do you really need to reinvent yourself so much as just continue down your path? It seems that what you were doing before was working pretty well for you, and for your patrons, I dare say."

"Though it worked well enough for my patrons, I suppose, I did not particularly enjoy it," Alienor admits, just a little too seriously. "One of my patrons felt very generous when I forgave a miscommunication, you see, and thus gave me the freedom to change my destiny." She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly in a centering sort of sigh before taking a long drink of kahve, closing her eyes to savor the bitter spiced beverage.

"So," the girl continues, raising her gaze to Perrin once more, a smile blossoming on her lips again. "Now, I am in a position to learn more. I would like to avoid miscommunication in the future, for the enjoyment of all." Which is likely best, as it was almost certainly a wildly expensive miscommunication, all things considered.

Perrin has thus far in the conversation been very easy to read as his expressions seem to tell more than he intends. Oddly, he is not so expressive as he hears the story of how the young woman across from him already earned her marque. The reason he chose that moment to be difficult to read are unclear, however he does give the appearance of simply considering what she is telling him and nodding his head, "Then you would achieve two goals simultaneously." He takes another sip of his drink and cannot seem to help but savor it and allow his eyes to drift closed for a moment before setting the steaming mug on the table top. He tells her, "Most that I have met do not only have one thing they enjoy. As you said before, the Alyssum canon has its own mystery hidden within modesty. There are many layers to be revealed and I am sure you will find than many a potential patron would be eager to be with you, even if they must learn that they must be denied some of their desires…" He pauses then before asking, "Are you able to still have the White Rose assist in screening patrons? It seems that not all would be as tantalized by being denied as others."

All the while Alienor and Perrin have sat together speaking of kunefe and of courtship, a pair of some noble’s guards — lean and dark, unarmed but subtly menacing — have warded the privacy of a nearby nook that is also screened by draperies of shimmering cloth-of-gold.

At a word from within they reach out to part the golden veil and reveal a woman, standing there as ideally composed as a classical Hellenic statue in an alcove. Her gown is simple, and unusually modest for the Eisandine summer, covering her to her wrists and the hollow of her throat in forget-me-not blue silk with golden ribbons to fasten the sleeves; the hue of it seems to deepen the sapphire of her eyes. Her hair is arranged much as the statue’s might be, her black curls woven through with another of those ribbons and dotted with luminous pearls which share its golden sheen. One hand wears a black silk glove and loosely holds its mate; the other, bare and showing neat gilded nails, clasps an ivory fan.

She pauses, unmoving whilst her gaze travels at speed, until it arrives at a familiar little figure upon a divan almost at her feet. The sight of her (unfamiliar to almost everyone present) quietens the ambient hum of coffee house conversation just enough, in these moments, that her purr carries easily to the erstwhile White Rose: “Alienor nó Rose Sauvage.”

(There’s someone behind her still seated amongst the cushions, but we won’t worry about him. The curtains fall again before any observer could possibly be expected to take note of the person Odile Shahrizai de Cantacuzène was meeting so discreetly.)

"Unfortunately, I am not. My interest in deviating from strict canon is considered… inappropriate," Alienor explains to Perrin with a small, almost regretful, smile before her attention is distracted by the incredibly statuesque noblewoman in blue. "Excuse me, my lord," she says as she rises, though she stands by their table as she sweeps a formal curtsey to the woman.

"My lady," the girl greets, and there is a measure of delight in her voice, though her gaze is downcast and she lingers in the curtsey for a moment before rising. "May I beg you to join me? Allow me to introduce the Lord Perrin de Somerville, a charming gentleman most taken with the kahve and trying the kunefe for the very first time." She turns slightly, back to Perrin. "Lord Perrin, the Lady Odile Shahrizai de Canacuzène, also newly arrived in Marsilikos." The order of introductions naturally indicates social standing.

Perrin stands as well and tells Odile, "It is nice to meet you. We would both be pleased if you would join us. It seems we may have gotten a larger dessert than I had imagined. Perhaps we can tempt you into also joining our informal feast?" He waits for both of the women to seat themselves before retaking his seat and saying, "I am also a very new arrival to the city. I only arrived well after dark last night and set the Somerville residence alight with activity at the most unseemly hour. I believe that every first impression should leave room to improve." And with that, he finally shows off his smile, perhaps hoping the women at the table might also find some humour.

“Charming,” Odile murmurs in her lilting foreign accent, looking from one to the other; and she covers the short span of carpet between them with a few gliding steps which leave behind a pair of flimsy slippers, dyed the hue of her gown, now marking the route of her passage.

She casts her unworn glove down upon the table and catches up a handful of her skirts; there’s a quick glimpse of slim feet in white silk stockings, and an underskirt embroidered with bouquets of keys in thread-of-gold, as she steps straight onto the divan next to Alienor, and then arranges herself with the comfortable grace of a cat curling up on a cushion. She lays down her fan in her smooth silken lap and her hand, lightly, upon the young courtesan’s arm in greeting.

For Perrin, opposite, she has a brilliant smile; her teeth are very even and very white, and her pleasure is infectious. “So new to the city and already you have found fine kahve and a pretty courtesan. What a navigator you would make, Lord Perrin,” she teases, as her hand lifts from Alienor’s arm after resting there perhaps an instant longer than courtesy would permit. She snaps her fingers and suddenly a waiter is there — “Kahve, milady?” — and she answers with a regal nod. Kahve, of course kahve. She’s only had two cups already this afternoon.

As soon as the Shahrizai is seated, then Alienor resumes her seat, always conscientious of social standing, as is appropriate for a courtesan. And she does not object to Odile's lingering touch, though generally she tends to pull away from that sort of thing. She gives the older woman the sort of smile that suggests a puppy, eager and pleased to be told that she is the bestest girl. Then she turns her gray gaze back to her original companion and offers him a coy smile and a little flutter of lashes before dropping her gaze to her cup of kahve.

Perrin watches Odile as she gets settled and shows a bit of interest as the noble woman's hand lingers on the courtesan's for a moment longer than he was expecting. He then glances upward, almost as if chiding himself at his nearly boyish distraction at such a thing. His smile returns then and he admits, "I am not normally so lucky. I followed my nose and the scent of the kahve and it led to a very good day thus far. My helmsmanship does not always lead to so much of interest, however I have to agree that you have the right of it in this case."

He lifts his still steaming mug and proposes a playful toast, "That all of our days should be so eventful and filled with such fine company." He looks to Alienor again for a moment and shares with her a not-so secret smile, as if thanking her for some tidbit of knowledge through her actions. His gaze returning to Odile again as he asks, "You have only just arrived in Marsilikos as well, what brings you to this fine city and do you plan to stay long? I know we have only just met, however I am already intrigued and hope that I am fortunate enough to encounter you more often during my time here."

Perhaps the warmth of Odile’s bare, sunkissed hand upon Alienor’s arm is a reward for the puppy’s recent good behaviour— she’s sitting, too, a little closer to the girl than she did yesterday, perhaps just because this red divan is smaller than the yellow one over yonder, and so encourages a greater degree of conversational intimacy. Her companions have had time by now to pick her subtle, exotic, warmly feminine fragrance from amongst La Perle’s own scents of coffee and cinnamon and tobacco. It suits the place; it suits her too.

“I came to Marsilikos because it is the most convenient and the most civilised place in Terre d’Ange from which to conduct affairs that touch upon other lands,” Odile confides to Perrin; “as to how long I shall remain,” she tilts her head and half-closes her sapphire eyes, as if making in that very moment a calculation, “I cannot say.” And her eyes open again and she shakes her head, still smiling. “It will depend upon how well those affairs prosper,” she concludes simply. “And you, Lord Perrin? Do you come to Marsilikos only to be intrigued?”

Alienor inhales slowly, her eyes fluttering shut for a moment, so that she can savor that little bit of the Shahrizai that tickles her nose, so intimately close. When she opens her eyes, her gray gaze is already focused upon Perrin across the table, wide and innocent and alluring, and she dips her head slightly so that she can study him through her lush dark lashes. She smiles comfortably as the nobles talk amongst themselves, entertaining herself by listening and by sampling the kahve once more.

Perrin leans back in his seat, seeming to be well enjoying the company and not minding in the least that his side of the table is less comfortable looking than the other. He sips his drink once more and continues the ritual of breathing the aroma in and allowing his eyes to drift closed for a moment while enjoying it. His eyes open once more as he attentively listens to Odile's response to his question and nods his head, finding her answer to be satisfactory, perhaps heralding a similar response from him. He leans forward briefly to sample a bit more of the dessert before responding to the question. He admits, "Much like yourself, I do not have a defined timeline. I have moved here for now and do not plan to return to L'Agnace in the near future, yet neither do I intend to spend my days here. I've come to help establish a better horse trade for my family and perhaps find some breeding partners once our stock has shown itself to be as good as I know it is…"

He pauses then and shows a somewhat embarrassed smile, knowing he went on overly long about the topic. He only comments, "If you think I go on and on about horses, you should hear me talk about… other topics that intrigue me", using Odile's words a bit playfully as he does not specify any more than she had.

He does shift his focus to the lovely Alienor who has gone silent and seems quite content by her lady's side. He attempts to raw her back into the conversation by asking, "You have had the pleasure of meeting our lovely White Rose in the past and she seems quite fond. She was just telling me some of her fascinating story. I found that I had no good advice for her, however it does make me glad to see that she has found such good company." It is not completely clear who he is complimenting, maybe himself for finding such interesting women to enjoy his time with.

The soft, golden sound of chiming earrings announces Safiye Hanim, the proprietress of the establishment: a matronly figure in blue and orange and turquoise silks and herself also fragrant, as always, of the Far East. She bears a heavy and finely-wrought Ephesian silver tray which holds a copper cup more elaborate than those in which Alienor's and Perrin's kahve was served, a glazed pottery dish of lemon-flavoured Ephesian delight, and a glass of spring water painted with what would be the flowers of the season, were one in Constantinopolis. Still holding the tray — and perhaps saying a quiet prayer to her foreign God! — she lowers herself to her knees close beside Perrin and addresses Odile, for whom she has had waiters keeping an eye out all day after she became such a topic of last night’s staff meeting. She slipped into that alcove with her merchant friend too quickly to be caught, and the boy listening through the spy-hole and taking notes couldn’t keep up with their talk, worse luck. But now she’s out in the open, Safiye can’t resist taking the measure of so curious a returning patron.

“Lady Shahrizai, I hope I don’t intrude. Please allow me to welcome you again to La Perle Noire,” she murmurs pleasantly as she eases the edge of the tray onto the table. “I am Safiye Hanim, the proprietress. She clasps her hands together and bows her head over them in respectful greeting. Her d’Angeline is flawless; her voice is like dark velvet, but slightly roughened by smoke. “I hope you and your companions have found all to your liking today,” and her warm dark brown eyes look away from Odile just long enough to acknowledge first Alienor, a regular sight, and Perrin, a fresh one. “I have taken the liberty of brewing your kahve myself; no hand but mine has touched it,” she mentions, and then, smiling, she adds a question in Hellene: even if one doesn’t speak the language, the interrogatory lift is plain to hear.

Odile’s fathomless sapphire eyes seem fascinated by Perrin and his talk — she nods to him several times, and the creases about her eyes deepen with her smile when he speaks of horses — until the older Ephesian woman arrives to become their cynosure instead. “Very much to my liking, Safiye Hanim,” she answers; “you are to be commended for bringing the true flavour of Constantinpolis to these shores, to share with women as well,” she teases.

And the two of them exchange a few remarks in Hellene — deferential from Safiye, easy and bantering from Odile — as, curiously, the proprietress drinks a mouthful of the kahve before serving it to the waiting patron. The froth of it is fleetingly visible upon her upper lip before she licks it away. Then Odile seems to gesture to the plateful of powdered yellowish cubes of Ephesian delight. Her fingers hover as if offering those too to be sampled — and they are. Watching Safiye as she chews and swallows the dainty treat, Odile segues smoothly back into d’Angeline for the benefit of the others. “And may I present,” she suggests, as if the coffee-house’s proprietress carried the highest customary rank amongst those assembled around her — after her own, of course, “Lord Perrin Somerville, visiting from L’Agnace, and Mademoiselle Alienor nó Rose Sauvage, whose own intriguing story I have yet to hear.”

“My lord,” and Safiye nods to Perrin and then Alienor, “my lady.”

Easily distracted by beautiful and shiny things — which the proprietress certainly is, matronly or no — Alienor turns her attention from her companions to watch the woman with wide, thoughtful eyes, and she smiles her most gentle girlish smile at the woman as she watches her sip the noblewoman's kahve. An interesting Ephesian custom it seems. She does not object when the wrong title being used; the Shahrizai has used the correct one, and if Safiye wishes to ignore that, the girl sees no real harm in it.

"It's a pleasure to meet you," the young courtesan offers to the woman, admiring her clothing and manner. "Your kahve is my favorite treat." As are her desserts, but the plates on the table give that away.

Perrin watches the exchange with interest between Safiye and Odile. His sharp eyes seeming to appraise, and weigh the meaning of this unexpected visit. He gives no sign that he understands the foreign tongue, however he also hides his ignorance well if he does understand. When he and Alienor are introduced he says, "The pleasure is all mine. The wonderful smell of the kahve drew me in, and the good food and company both have urged me to linger. You are to be commended, this is a most excellent shop and I am glad that I have discovered it."

He looks to the two women at his table then and shows off his smile once more as he says, "You are both most intriguing. If I am not careful, I will forget why I have come to the city and simply wish to stay for the intrigue after all." His gaze lingering on the two beauties across from him for just a moment more before he looks to Safiye once more. He seems to have questions, however as she has chosen to kneel next to him, facing Odile, he seems to forestall any comment and quiets so as to witness the interaction and try perhaps to determine the hidden meaning.

Safiye smiles benevolently at Alienor. “It is kind of you to think so well of our kahve, my lady; I hope we will continue to see you and your pretty daisies often.” Then, to Perrin: “My lord, you are very kind. I hope you will always find beneath my roof such respite and such company as you desire.” She looks back to Odile with a deeper inclination of her head. “If I may offer you some other service today, despoina—?” she inquires in a ritual murmur.

Odile answers her with a luminous smile. “Perhaps another day, hanim.”

“Then if you will forgive me, my ladies, my lord,” and Safiye bows again and rises with commendable steadiness from her kneeling posture. She bends to pick up the silver tray in both hands, and takes two steps backward with it before turning to go.

The Shahrizai lady is already showing Perrin her aristocratic profile as she looks down at the little courtesan beside her. “Now, Mademoiselle Alienor, what is this tale—?” she teases gently. “Or is it a confidence you save only for the ears of gentlemen you like?”

"Oh, no, my lady. Lord Perrin was merely surprised that I'd made my marque so quickly, and questioned why I might leave the Rose Sauvage if I were so successful," Alienor replies to Odile, bowing her head gracefully for a moment once the fascinating Safiye has departed. "And I explained that a wealthy nobleman made a gift of the marque. He was feeling very generous, you see, when I forgave him a miscommunication, and thus gave me the freedom to write my own story." She gestures slightly with one hand in a vague manner.

"As to the salon," the young girl continues. "I find that I am less interested in following the canon of the White Rose so strictly for the moment, and this is unacceptable to the leadership at this time." Another vague gesture. "But now I have the opportunity to learn more about my patrons, to help them help me to understand their desires directly, without a Second acting as authoritative intermediary."

Perrin seems content to observe for a time, first watching the interactions with Safiye and giving her a warm smile when she speaks to him, "I will look forward to it, and I am sure that even on visits where I do not find company, that I will be well pleased with the kahve alone." He quiets once more and allows her to speak freely before leaving. His attention then turning towards Odile, however he finds her looking towards the lovely young courtesan and he finds a smile returning to his lips at their interactions. He does say, "I am sorry my dear, I did not mean to compel you into reiterating your story. I am afraid that I had never met a courtesan as young as you are and I must admit that I find it… intriguing. I really must find a new word." He takes a drink of his kahve and sighs contently before saying, "All three of us are beginning new paths in our lives, and it strikes me that it seems fated that we should meet."

<FS3> Odile rolls Perception: Success. (6 5 5 7 4 1 3 4 2 2 6)

“I see,” murmurs Odile to Alienor, on a sympathetic note; “so expensive a gift suggests a grave miscommunication indeed — and a considerable capacity for forgiveness.” She tilts her head as she studies Alienor, looking down at her out of the corner of one deep sapphire-blue eye— then she gives an elegant shrug and reaches for her cup of kahve, still fresh and still hot. Her movement stirs the tails of the neat bows in which her golden ribbons are tied. “If we speak it much more it will lose its meaning,” she opines to Perrin, of his favoured word.

And then the rim of the copper cup meets her lips and she drinks, keeping the others waiting till she’s downed a third of her kahve, steadily and without a pause. She lowers the cup but keeps it in her hand, as the tip of her tongue captures a trace of foam that dared to mar the red paint of her lips. “Do you often discern the hand of fate in what others might consider pure chance?” she asks Perrin at last. “But perhaps it is so. I do need another new horse.”

"It is nice to think of it that way. A new start for each of us," Alienor considers with a soft smile, nodding a bit. "And I am pleased to be your companion any time you might wish one, my lord." She studies Perrin for another moment before focusing on Odile again, for the woman does sit far closer than the man does. "Sometimes forgiveness is important," she says quietly, schooling her expression for a moment. It takes her longer than it might seem to say those four words.

"It is nice to think of it that way. A new start for each of us," Alienor considers with a soft smile, nodding a bit. "And I am pleased to be your companion any time you might wish one, my lord." She studies Perrin for another moment before focusing on Odile again, for the woman does sit far closer than the man does. "Sometimes forgiveness is important," she says quietly, schooling her expression for a moment. It takes her longer than it might seem to say those four words.

Perrin nods his head in agreement with Odile and says, "I do seem to be repeating some of the things I had said, which is going to make me incredibly dull even to myself." He quiets then to watch Odile take down that mug of coffee like a champion and he nods his head in approvals when she lowers it, like 'damn straight'. Unfortunately, his forming nod of just agreement also happens to be given at the exact moment that her tongue appears to capture that small bit of foam. It is then that his eyes widen and he seems to know the sort of fool he would look if her gaze turned to him so he blurts out, "Weather… Um, nice weather." then just holds the bridge of his nose between index finger and thumb as if his own faux pas have caused him physical pain.

It is about then that Alienor looks to Odile and speaks those four words and he seems to be quiet less because of his awkward timing and more on the wisdom of the young woman's words. Her thoughtful words possibly saving the nobleman from embarrassing himself too much there. He remains silent for a moment longer before finally saying, "You truly are quite dear, Alienor.".

Quieting again for a moment before moving on, not even trying to correct the lame attempt to talk about the weather and instead says, "Well in that case, it may well be. It is not a short journey here and I want to give the horses a few days to acclimate… to the weather." He brightens then, and looks to the two women across from him as if curious to see if they will do him the kindness to act as if he meant to lead into that. No matter how they choose to respond, he asks, "Perhaps we can meet again in a few days and I can show you the horses I brought with me. Some are for sale and some are for breeding, however if you find one to your liking that was for breeding, we can come to an arrangement." His eyes shift briefly to Alienor then, as if wondering what her mood is with the way the conversation has shifted several times. Despite his stumbles only moments before, his humor seems to have returned already, likely just talking about what he enjoys. Horses? Breeding? The mystery is left to the audience to determine.

<FS3> Odile rolls Perception: Success. (1 6 2 6 8 3 2 1 5 2 1)

Odile is again occupied in studying Alienor, no doubt much to the relief of Perrin and his amour propre. “It is a virtue,” she agrees, and upon her lips the words seem like praise for the younger woman, or perhaps even a verbal caress; “and one of the most difficult to cultivate. I have never had a vocation for it, myself.” She takes another deep draught of kahve (thus far she has ignored her glass of water) and then sets down her cup and flicks open her ivory fan. Plying it lazily and with grace, drawing a few more eyes to herself by its motion, she murmurs to the Somerville lord, “A letter to the duc de Shahrizai’s Marsilikos residence would reach me, Lord Perrin, when you and your beasts have recovered yourselves after the journey south. I am in the market for hunters in particular. I prefer a well-trained stallion, or a clever mare who can anticipate me,” she adds casually, and anyone looking at her whimsical little smile could be forgiven for remaining unsure whether the topic of their talk is horseflesh.

"Sometimes it takes a ride or two to really form a bond, so that training or anticipation comes more naturally," Alienor suggests with a thoughtful little smile as she peers into her cup to see if she has much if any kahve left. "At least when it comes to horses, so I'm told."

Perrin nods his head once more, noticing that he has been doing that a lot recently, however when you agree it does seem to be an awfully nice and simple way to express it, and he seems to find Odile's words about Alienor's virtue to be spot on. Also, this time he didn't give the 'fuck yeah' nod which almost got him in trouble a minute ago. He has ort of gone a bit dead-pan now as he says, "There really is no such thing as a well-trained stallion. No matter how you train them, you are still in for a fight, but the challenge is why you choose a stallion over a gelding." His gaze shifts to Alienor and agrees with her, "A well mannered mare can be a great compliment even to the best riders. The longer they ride together, the more one can anticipate the other." He looks back to Odile and adds, "And you may find yourself responding to the mare and adjusting to compliment her as well." He might still be talking about horses, but that only seems to be the case because he has not managed to suggest how the stallion and two mares are really the way to go.

“Yes,” Odile murmurs guilelessly to Alienor, “the time to create a bond, and to learn to communicate without words,” but can she really have chosen that word by chance, “greatly aids the pleasure and the ease of one’s ride… I must disagree with you, though, my lord,” she adds, as her sapphire gaze returns to Perrin. Again she has recourse to her kahve, draining the cup well past the half-way mark at which its elaborate geometrical patterning reverses itself, while her eyes hold coolly to his and he must wait upon her elucidation of his mistake.

At length she lowers her cup, just as her tongue finishes chasing the foam from her lips. “One need not squander one’s strength in fighting a stallion,” she says quietly, smiling; “when one meets him in his misbehaviour, one is in a manner tolerating and rewarding his bad habits. It’s more practical to ensure that he never forgets to begin with that you are his master.”

Alienor turns her tornado-gray eyes to Odile for a thoughtful moment, tilting her head just so, her veil falling cunningly against her features. "I have been learning quite a bit about not tolerating misbehavior of late; it is an important skill to possess, and one that I think shall serve me well," she agrees with a little nod. "When I go riding." She drops her gaze then, looking off to some far corner of the room thoughtfully for a moment.

Perrin is unable to hide a little smile as the lovely women across the table from him continue to talk about the joys of riding and his mind may well be dumping the depths at this point with all the real or imagined double entendre. He concedes that Odile is not incorrect, "I suppose that you could condition a stallion to the point that even if he were near a mare in heat, he could behave himself. It seems better to me that the rider should be trained and the stable master should take greater care. If you want to breed the finest stock, I like to thing having a little wildness in your stallions will make the line stronger. Our are own beliefs regarding passions not dissimilar? Animals are the same, in many species only the strongest of males continue the line. " He shows his white teeth in a full smile after admitting, "Of course the tastes of men and women differ, and the mindset of breeders. I would not presume to lecture a lady from Kusheth on horses, however I do wonder how you might find a bit of wildness refreshing."

He leans back then and looks from one woman to the next before asking, "We have been here for quite some time. Would you like to stretch your legs? I have not seen much of the city yet and be glad to get some fresh air in such wonderful company as the two of you?" He seems to have nary a clue as to where the three would go, however he does not look like the sort of man that sits inside for long periods of time, so he may be content with anywhere where he can be off his backside.

“Yes, when you go riding, mademoiselle,” agrees Odile, nodding to Alienor to set her seal of approval upon this conclusion— quite as though such advice were applicable only in circumstances involving the presence of an actual horse between one’s thighs.

“I should tell you that I’d have no interest,” she adds to Perrin, her air frank but still gentle, and her lyrical mezzo-soprano perhaps a whit less exotically accented after exchanging so much talk with d’Angelines, “in purchasing a stallion who could not be readily compelled to good behaviour when he scented a mare’s desire. Not every mare has the luxury of hiding away in her stable at such a time, nor should she have to be confined merely because the owners and trainers of stallions have raised them with inadequate care and cannot control them. One would think you were considering a purdah for female horses,” she teases, “inspired by Ephesium and its purdah for women.” She gestures about them with her fan, and then flicks it emphatically shut. “I have not found the time too long,” she muses, “but I can hardly deny the navigator his yearning to explore new waters… Be well, Lord Perrin,” she says simply.

"Would you like a companion for your walk, Lord Perrin?" Alienor wonders, biting her lip slightly for a moment as she looks to the nobleman curiously. "If so, I shall bid my lady a fond farewell and hope to spend more time in her company soon." She nods deeply to Odile in a respectful sort of way.

Perrin doesn't seem to know what purdah means, but seems to get the general idea. He looks almost as if he is going to ask if they are talking about horses, but after a moment he merely smiles and says, "I have been… intruiged by meeting you Lady Odile, I look forward to seeing you again… I will send a missive in a few days so that you can come see the horses if you so choose." The invitation remaining despite her words indicating no interest in a breeder such as him. He stands then and looks to Alienor and offers her a smile, "I would enjoy that. I am afraid I do not know the city well, so I may need you to point out areas of note as we walk."

He offers her his arm then looks back to Odile as if not happy to leave on the note that was recently struct. He says, "While our thoughts on horse breeding may not be exactly the same, I do hope that you will accept my offer. I have been charmed by our meeting and hope to enjoy your company again, my lady."

Before Alienor can rise, Odile’s hand upon her arm arrests her incipient motion. Those cool sapphire eyes meet hers unerringly through her light, gauzy veil, and seem to hold her, whilst Odile’s hand lifts to make a tiny adjustment to the set of her daisy crown. It’s almost like looking into a mirror. “There,” she pronounces, and her smile broadens to its fullest and most brilliant extent. “Enjoy your walk,” she says softly to the young courtesan in particular, “and your freedom to take it.” Then she catches up her discarded glove from where it has been lying next to the remains of the kunefe, and looks up into Perrin’s eyes in turn. “Perhaps we shall argue it another day, Lord Perrin,” she suggests. “I shall look for your letter.”

That last has the air of a dismissal; and on their way out into the sunlit Grand Plaza Odile’s late companions will discover they have nothing to pay, the Shahrizai lady having already taken responsibility in Hellene for the expenses of their converging paths.

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