(1312-07-15) Audrialla's Birthday Party
Summary: Mademoiselle Audrialla hosts a birthday party for herself where a tower of sweet pastries is in peril.
RL Date: Wed Jul 15, 2020
Related: None
jehan-pascal desarae delphine audrialla 

Market Promenade

Two massive promenades, separated by a narrow row of alternating planters and plinths supporting marble statues from all over the known world, make up a marketplace that extends in a narrow space far to the north of the grand plaza to the south. Each walkway is two two-meter marble slabs wide, one gleaming white, the other greyish-blue, and they alternate to and fro in coloration all the way down each promenade, their intersections marked with a series of equal-armed crosses in shimmering black stone. While there is plenty of space for vendors to set up ad-hoc establishments to hawk their wares, to each side of the double promenade are stoa of fluted marble, holding up a terra-cotta tiled roof over a shady, cool walkway, punctuated here and there with doorways and windows open to a long series of indoor shops, each marked with a hanging sign outside the door.

Every twenty meters or so, five stairs lift the level of the promenade as the marketplace works its way uphill, to a smaller plaza at the northern end where all the most exclusive and expensive shops are established. This smaller plaza also has an obelisk of red granite in the middle; it's shorter, and more slender, but when the change in elevation is taken into account, its tip is at the exact same height as the massive obelisk in the town square to the south.

Tables with brightly colored linen tablecloths have been set out in front of Mallet's Bakery, with pennants stretching out from the door to support posts. A broad table has been laden with some of the Pastry chef's finest work. Choux pastries with cream fillings. a towering croquembouche with spun sugar wrapped about it, and little pies of various fillings. But the cakes. The cakes are the stars of Audrialla's birthday. Strawberries and fresh creme in sponge. Chocolate with thin shavings of exotic coconuts. Even more rare bananas with a cream cheese frosting. And a humble sheet cake with 'Happy Birthday ' written in frosting.

The birthday girl herself has chosen to wear off the shoulder green linen with orange and gold flower embroidery to make herself fancy. Even if she's the one cutting and serving the cake to her guests. Her burly cousins serve as bouncers for less desirable elements as she caters to higher end friends and clients today.

Someone had mentioned birthday cake… and here she is, Delphine le Blanc de Baphinol, dowager vicomtesse of Orange, attired in a fashionable dress of dark red color, dark hair arranged into an impressive pile of curls. "Ah… Mademoiselle Audrialla! Let me offer you my congratulations on your birthday," she remarks with a warm smile towards the baker. "I should as well plan something sometime, where I could commission you to provide some of those wonderful delicacies that you are known for!" She did probably arrive with the relative by marriage, Lord Jehan-Pascal, heir to the Comté de Baphinol, but for now she has a young man of fashionable air and attire about her, handsome and charming. "Would you think that I shall be forgiven, to give in to temptation to savour a slice of this marvellously enticing birthday cake?", she wonders towards the young man in her company.

Jehan-Pascal has arrived with a little bit of a retinue, in fact. Auntie D, read above. Cousin Nessie, who is about the place somewhere, no doubt. The wifey, of course— and no small number of the staff at the Baphinol Residence, who have been given holiday to attend. Fav and JP, hand in hand, present in moderate attire, not hoping to outshine the Mademoiselle whose day it is, but are dressed smartly, he in a jacket and knickers of pale green and mustard-gold, she in a tawny but rather plain gown of her own, buttoned from neck to hem in two rows of polished nickel vel sim. They are content, for now, to wonder at this offering and that, letting the rest go ahead to the cake and to greet she whom they are celebrating with all due well-wishes first.

Having heard mention of Audrialla's upcoming birthday celebrations, Desarae has taken it upon herself to bestow her presence upon the proceedings. She arrives in the company of her grey-garbed cassiline and one of her maids; the latter bearing a package. The Mereliot heiress wears a gown of smoke grey voile that's designed to showcase a slim waist; with a muted rose-colored sash winds a few times around her waist and ties in a neat knot with the ends draping over the skirt. An underskirt gives volume where the voile does not, and when she moves, the skirt seems to float with her. A bolero made of the same grey voile is embroidered and beaded with flowers and leaves that's meant to make the dress a bit more conservative but still in keeping with d'Angeline style. She heads in Delphine's direction where they converge upon Audrialla, and tends her greetings. "Lady Delphine. How lovely to see you again." A nod and a beauteous smile to the man at her side. To Audrialla, the woman of the moment. "Felicitations upon your natality, mademoiselle Audrialla." A gesture of her hand to her maid sees the package that she carries offered up; a small rectangular shaped offering bedecked bound about with pink ribbons. "A small gift, mademoiselle. I hope you find it pleasing." Jehan-Pascal and Favourite are noted, though she's not one to holler a greeting.

Audrialla smiles brightly at the well-wishers converging on her. She looks tickled pink at the reception and proud of the people admiring her fine wares. Several Mallet cousins and perhaps even her siblings are serving up the pastries and other delights but they have yet to cut the delicious looking cakes. e
Jehan-Pasquale and lovely wife are given a warm smile as they approach, and she makes a deep curtsy for the dowager in their company, letting her green eyes look them all over. "I'm so pleased you could join me," she says sincerely. "The cakes will be cut soon, but there's lighter fare and wine to enjoy until then," she advises. "It just struck me as a silly notion to have a party for everyone rather than just spend it with my family, eating my own cake." She gasps as she sees Desarae's gift and claps her hands in delight. "You didn't have to," she says in surprise. "I wasn't expecting anything other than peoples delightful company. She receive it from the maid and Audrialla asks, "shall I open it now?"

"Lady Desarae." Delphine purrs the greeting with a wry twist of a smile. "You look lovely, indeed." The fact that she doesn't introduce the man in her company may mean many things, but is eventually left to speculation. "Such a lovely day it is, and such wonderful occasion. Mademoiselle Audrialla, the weather favors you today." Still. There is that gift in Audrialla's hands, and Delphine makes sure to watch the unpacking with hardly concealed curiosity.

There is wine, and Jehan-Pascal, prized wine-scent hound that he is, has already found himself some by the time he has opportunity to lift it in grinning recognition of Audrialla's warm smile even from a distance. Favourite, on the other hand, is abstaining, perhaps if only to keep one hand's fingers entangled with her husband's and a tiny gift-pouch of pale green satin dangling from a cord in her other fingers. They've also come with a gift, after all— possibly one from house Baphinol in general, but she'll keep it in reserve, just now, as they also drift near to see what will come of the rectangular parcel.

Audrialla's question blossoms a smile on Desarae's lips. "You may open it later if you've a preference for that," she teases lightly, "but would you rob me of the pleasure of it's unwrapping? How cruel!" A low laugh filters through her lips as she leaves the choice that's not really a choice at all in Audrialla's hands, and turns her head back to Delphine, encompassing the dowager vicomtesse in the warmth of her laughter. "Thank you, my lady. The gown was commissioned on my recent visit to Elua." She doesn't exactly give a twirl, but she does give a twist of her hips to swirl the layers of voile about her ankles. The gift, should Audrialla open it, will reveal itself to be an exquisitely crafted rosewood box, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, with the interior lined in Mereliot blue velvet. She accepts a glass of chilled white wine when offered, and lifts in a silent toast; first in Audrilla's direction, then Delphines and lastly in the Baphinols' direction.

Eagerly, Audri unwraps Desarae's gift, eyes delighted with anticipation. "So exciting. I wasn't expecting anything from anyone, but this makes it more fun. A total surprise." The jewelry box is met with a slow gasp of awe. "It's exquisite," the baker says. She hands it to a niece to set aside carefully. "Thank you! I shall keep my most precious treasures in it," she proclaims.
The wine isn't an expensive vintage but Audri has enough taste to ensure it's a good balance dessert wine to accompany her offerings. A queue starts to form for the more common guests as she motions one handedly to her cousins to prepare the cakes. "For you, my dear friends, we will go straight to the fore. What flavors do you want? I took care to make a fine variety of them for every pallet." Fav's gift is noted and will he received in time.

"Ah… Elua… As much as I love the capital, I'm glad that I am back. It is so lovely here, in Marsilikos." Delphine smiles and accepts a glass of chilled white wine from an attendant, then lifts it in toast towards the baker. "Mademoiselle Audrialla, here's to you and your delicious creativity that keeps tempting so many of us nobles and provides to much pleasure." Her toast is not silent, and she chuckles a little as she lifts the glass to her lips, watching Audrialla over the rim as she savours a sip of white wine. The present, now unwrapped, is studied with a hint of admiration that carries over to the glance she shoots Desarae. It is now that the lord in her company murmurs something into her ear, which elicits a smile and a wicked glint in her eyes, as Delphine is pulled away to the side for a moment, to continue the conversation with the man in her company at a low volume.

Desarae takes a first sip of her wine, and she holds it in her mouth to savour its sweetness, swallowing it only once a few seconds have passed. "I wasn't certain where your tastes lie, mademoiselle," she confesses to Audrialla, "but it's easy enough to find uses for boxes." Especially ones so finely crafted, the mother-of-pearl shimmering irridescent in the warm Eisandine sun. "Indeed yes," she further adds to Delphine, "Marsilikos is a balm to the soul, though the day will come soon enough when I'll leave it once more." She leaves Delphine to her gentleman friend with that, and turns her attention once more on the baker and her table of cakes. "A little of the banana for myself, and a piece of the chocolate with the coconut for my maid." Her cassiline isn't spoken for, the man neither drinks nor eats whilst guarding his ward.

Jehan-Pascal sips from his wine, as well, not swallowing it as swiftly as he might otherwise, especially when he proves himself the ample help-meet of his spouse and lifts the glass, instead, for her to drink from, her hands both being at occupancy. The gesture is returned for a brief, almost chaste-looking kiss, and when the box is revealed they both take their turn at wondering at it, as well as, in Jehan-Pascal's case, approving of Auntie D's speech with a sound, "Hear, hear." When Delphine and her beau step back, they'll amble up in place, and finally become unjoined at the palm when Jehan-Pascal leans over to gawp at the cakes. "Banana, how extraordinary," he comments, while Favourite slyly slips both forefingers into the cord of the little sateen pouch and slips it for Audrialla to have when she has a moment between servings. "From all we Baphinol who are blessed to stay where your morsels may delight us by the sea," she announces, but softly, not trying to call attention, only to let Audrialla know she is appreciated by their house.

Audrialla would be surprised if a cassiline took part in such frivolities. The baker takes the sateen pouch and oohs in more delight. "It's my pleasure to serve, and speaking of…" She motions the party and their attendants to come with her to the cake table. She pauses a moment to raise her voice and call for attention. "Ladies, lords, distinguished guests and friends. Elua and the Companions have been good to me this past year, so I wanted to share my joy and blessings with all of you." She grabs a glass of wine from a passed tray and raises it high. "To another year of prosperity and peace."

After the year she's had, prosperity and peace is something which Desarae can easily lift her glass to. She lifts it high. "Prosperity and peace, mademoiselle," she returns, turning then to greet Jehan-Pascale and Favourite. "How well you both look," her greeting is genuine. Plates of cake are dispensed, and the hand not holding her glass is now filled, so she swallows down the rest of her wine and passes the empty vessel to one of Audrialla's cousins. Her eyes fall on the pouch, innocuous in its size. Good things come in small packages they say, especially when given by not one, but a whole House. She waits to see what is, but not without sampling a slice of banana which she digs from the frosting of her cake.

Jehan-Pascal's glass is still half-full, and now Favourite, her hands free, has a glass to her as well, and both of them stand straight in attention, glasses poised to receive Audrialla's blessing and to echo is along with Desarae, if not in unison, a somewhat staggered peppering of prosperities and peaces, but wished with full hearts, both, and drunk to, heartily, to match. "Lady Desarae," Jehan-Pascal begins, "Why, thank you, and yourself, as well," he offers, words standard-conversational, perhaps, but not without earnestness, no less. "Do you know I've never tried a banana," he remarks, of her cake, "But today I intend to, for certain," he grins.

Audrialla slices the cake herself, making sure to give generous potions for her patrons. "The banana is expensive but delicious. I spared no expense on the ingredients. The chocolate has coco-nuts on it. It's a milky flavor that pairs well. But a bit… chewy," she cautions. "Banana and cream cheese is a favorite of mine. They come in little yellow jackets you peel away to get to the fruit inside. It's delightful." While they feast she takes a peek into the little pouch.

"The banana is worth the adventure," Desarae advises Jehan-Pascale, relieving the pad of her finger of its smear of cream cheese with a deft pass of her tongue. "Mm." Her eyes lid. "We are fortunate that the cargo from Menekhet finds trade first with us." Another drag of her finger through the frosting of the cake, another decadent lick of her flesh. "I am intrigued, however," she adds, a lift of her chin towards the towering croquembouche, waiting a second until Audrialla's inspection of the pouch is concluded, "by that. It looks to be held together by naught but air and good will. I've not seen the likes of it before."

"Yes, I've seen one!" Jehan-Pascal remarks brightly, "I wasn't quite brave enough to attempt to liberate the fruit from its jacket," he admits, fiantly bashful, just there. "You must need the use of a knife or something," he proposes, and Favourite is only highly entertained by the provincial timidity of the fellow she married, from the gleam in her fair blue eyes. "It doesn't, but there is a little trick," she tells him, "Perhaps Mademoiselle Audrialla would be so good as to show you, one day," she grins, while Jehan-Pascal nods in approval after a bite of the banana cake. "Mmh!" he approves. "It's very rich."

The little pouch, meanwhile, contains a little pendant; nothing ostentatious, but two matched gems of green amethyst — not a pricey stone, but a rare enough variant to make it special, especially having two gems of such well-matched hue. They are mounted back and front on a setting of white gold that warms the green gems and lights them from the back with a subtle glow, a flat of the metal in between the two cut gems as to approximate the shape of a macaron— possibly pistachio? With a warm cream center. The white gold extends into a fixture at the top of the pendant, and a matched white gold chain snakes up from the bag after it.

Audri now has jewelry to put in her remarkable box, each worthy of the other. She gazes at it with a surprised look to her green eyes. "Oh my," she says breathlessly. "It's a true beauty. It will bring out my eyes nicely. And even match this dress," she says of her green linen. The baker turns to her airy tower and nods. "It's a bit of a challenge and a sign of a baker's skill to get a high stack out of them. Each is filled with cream and help together with a caramel sugar. I've had them collapse on me in the past if I'm not careful. What a nightmare that is."

<FS3> Audrialla rolls Reaction + Baking: Great Success. (5 6 7 8 2 3 7 7 2 6 5 6 3 8)

"Might I? Or is it meant purely as display," Desarae asks of the tower. She still has cake enough on her plate, and she continues her efficient disposal of it through the back and forth of congenial conversation. "But how lovely," she remarks of the pendant as it swings on its chain from Audrialla's fingers. "It looks exactly like the macarons we enjoyed at your dinner." Eyes greener and sharper than the amethysts in the pendant, turn Favourite's way, and humour sparkles in their depths. "Is the piece of your own design, Lady Favourite? I sense your hand in this."

Jehan-Pascal, for his part, isn't going to dare put a hand near the tower, but he'll beam brightly as Audrialla appreciates the pendant, and Desarae does, too. "Who doesn't love a macaron? And this one can last forever," he grins. Favourite's eyes lid mischievously to Desarae's question. "It was a joint effort," she answers, "Jehan-Pascal thought of the concept, I chose the stone and the metal to suit Mademoiselle Audrialla's coloring— and found a jeweler to take on the task." "Yes," Jehan-Pascal agrees with Favourite's division of labor analysis. "I thought pink, like the one I had that night, but Favourite is right with the pale green, I think. It really does go remarkably with her eyes, Fav. I — and I mean no disrespect, Mademoiselle," this, aside, to Audrialla heself, "Don't think I might have named the color of your eyes without coming to you again to check."

Audrialla waves away the concern over her eyes, "You have seen me but a few times, so do not feel the slightest touch of concern over that. The pendant is perfection." She pauses to fasten the chain behind her neck and glance down at it with a smile. "Please, help yourself," she motions to Desarae with a glance at the tower. "Just take from the top, hum," she jokes. "I have nightmares, indeed, about them crumbling over into a pile of little cream buns."

"Then you are well-matched," Deserae states with simplicity to Jehan-Pascale and Favourite. "and you complement each other well." Her empty plate is handed to her maid, and she advances on the croquembouche tower. "As a novice," she smiles in remembrance, "we had a game we would play, and this reminds me of that." Her skirts drift like smoke as she advances on the delicate tower of choux. "A ducat placed atop a compacted tower of flour." Her tongue presses to the inside of her cheek, and her hands rest briefly on the hips, and her fingers and thumbs span the corseted breadth of her waist. "From the top you say?" she checks for clarity.

Jehan-Pascal is still enjoying the banana cake, but the Lord Baphinol eats like a bird, as much as he drinks like a fish. "And my vision isn't as good as most peoples'," he further excuses himself, "But Fav has such an eye for things like that," he fawns a little bit. "We're so glad you like it, Mademoiselle Audrialla. The sweetest of natalities!" he bids her cheerily, while Favourite has come to admire the tower along with Desarae. "And you would cut slices from the tower until some one of you was unwary enough in cutting to topple the coin?" she grins, having shared in that girlhood game somewhere.

Audrialla says, "I have plenty of flour should you ever wish to play again," to Deserae. "Well, the top or near it. She is rather tall a tower," she added with pride. "It will be a test to my stacking skills if one can come out without the rest toppling over." She smiles at her necklace again and giggles. "This has been the best birthday yet."

<FS3> Desarae rolls Reaction+reaction+2: Failure. (5 6 4 2 6 1)

"Mayhap I will take you up on that," Desarae laughs at Audrialla's offer. "Who can tell, it might be the last occasion of 'silliness' that I might indulge in before I am wed." She circles the table on which the croquembouche is stacked, her slippered feet purposeful in their march as she brings her hands laced loosely together in the small of her back. She looks the tower up, and she looks the tower down, and she gauges its height against the probable reach of her arm — and comes up short. Not tall enough herself to pluck the uppermost pastry, she's left no option but to pluck from elsewhere. She halts, retraces her steps: one, two, backwards. Carefully, so very carefully, her hand lifts and settles on one of the buns, and the strands of sugar stretch and snap as she gently pulls it free.

The tower sags…

Jehan-Pascal spends 1 luck points on an epiphany in Architecture from out of the clear blue sky.

<FS3> Jehan-Pascal rolls Architecture+5: Good Success. (1 8 8 6 5 8 6 4 1 1)

Jehan-Pascal is finishing off his banana cake, leaving him with an empty plate in hand and eyes about as wide each as the plate itself as that tower begins to sag. He's got a half of a foot on Desarae in his bare feet, and he wears heels to lend him an inch or so further. She finds herself with an apologetic hand grasping her shoulder with an audible, "Oop!" as he gets in behind her and reaches over with his plate to snag the trailing threads of sugar and use their stickiness to halt the sagging while he edges around betwee her and Favourite, "Pardon me, Ladies," he issues bashfully, drawing the sugar upward and around to use the tower's own integrity to help keep itself up, finally drawing the plate slowly and gingerly away to find— it stands! "Huh!" As though he weren't entirely sure that that was going to work, at all.

It's like Audrialla's world goes into slow motion as the artful tower of pastry starts to lean. She moves towards it but the savior of the day steps forward and pushes it back into place. "Sweet Companions," she swears with shock. "That's a masterful catch! You saved the croquembouche!"

Desarae is left with the cream-filled puff she's claimed, it being held delicately in pinch of one finger and a thumb. "Oops…" she parrots Jehan-Pascale as he rescues the remains of the tower. A sterling job he does of it too, and she marvels at manner in which he uses the strands of sugar and the architecture of its construct to prevent what might otherwise have been a calamity. "I'm so terribly sorry, mademoiselle," she apologises to Audrialla, as with lashes lowered she lifts the pastry to her lips. "Mm…" she can't help it. The taste is divine; the pastry light and airy and the cream contained within a foil to the sweetness of the delicate strands of sugar that crack and melt on her tongue. "Sweet Elua's balls," she murmurs quite forgetting herself. "I would have this at my wedding feast."

Jehan-Pascal is going to stand there a futher full moment to process the way the tower stands, how its weight is distributed, how the forces are at play. Truly he has been too much in the company of architects— and it is a feeling like divinity, to watch something that should not stand— stand, despite all of that. His ears, hwoever, are quick to redden at Audrialla's words, "Oh, wasn't— not a problem," he lifts a hand, stepping casually back to Favourite's side. "Should I get you one, Fav?" he wonders, meanwhile feeling bold enough to reach to the top and safely select one not so detrimental to the structural integrity. "Oh, yes, please," she answers, intrigued by Desarae's being quite enthralled by the taste. He'll take two, then, and further relieve the burden of the tower below. They can share a plate. "Oh, yes, when will your fiance arrive?" Jehan-Pascal wonders. "Not long beforehand, or will he be in attendance around the place in advance?" he wonders of Desarae.

Once the tower is saved Audrialla's breath is let out and she relaxes as it balances back out. "They are often a wedding piece. I can place flowers between the spaces or weave ribbons in your house colors into them for color," she tells Desarae with a proud smile. "Or customize their filling. Truly, it's your decision. We can talk about it when the wedding plans go underway."

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