(1312-07-25) Six Stocking Stories
Summary: The Glycine Flowers seek the stockings off of the good folk of Marsilikos — six scenes in one!
RL Date: Over the course of the last half of July. Warning: Sexual themes and language. General Cochonnet warning!
Related: House Glycine Fetish Ball
cochonnet paris perpetua charlotte jehan-pascal delphine desarae ortolette 

Various Locations Throughout Marsilikos

La Rose Blanche - Night Court

Through heavy wrought-iron gates, lies the handsome white-washed facade of La Rose Blanche salon. Tall glass doors open into the vestibule, through which lies the salon that's famed for modesty, virtue and sweet forbidden fruit. Spacious and coolly serene, the walls are panelled in the palest blue and white silk, framing to the right of the room an elegantly carved marble fireplace in white. Directly opposite to the entrance are floor to ceiling windows which flank multi-paned double doors that spill into the garden, and these are framed by blindingly white muslin beneath heavier drapes of blue that are accented with silver threadwork.

Silk upholstered armchairs are gathered around the fireplace, and others have been thoughtfully arranged throughout the room in order that patrons might have a choice wherein to place themselves. For those requiring something more langorous, two chaises of velvet are angled near the windows, these affording pleasing views of the gardens. Silver sconces hung with looping crystal chains illuminate paintings on the walls, and these depict figures in various state of deshabille, with blushes charmingly staining their cheeks as if they are only now aware of the voyeur's eye upon them. Whatever the season, an abundance of flowers in shades of white are in evidence; chosen not only for the purity of their colour and fragrance, but to remind patrons that the flowers with whom they choose to spend their time with in the salon are just as fragile, and have many layers of petals to explore and delight in.

You would think that if a creature like Cochonnet Cocotte no Glycine were to walk into a house of such purity as the nw White Rose salon, either she or the salon itself would instantly catch fire from the sheer paradox. But look— she's barely recognizable. In the heat of the summer, her tits aren't even out, she who leaves them out to get cold even in the wintertime. Instead, she's dressed in a flax-hued gown of linen and silk, buttoned double-breasted in brass fittings and suppressing the ample survature of her bosom as the neckline rises almost to her chin. Long sleeves are tight to the elbow but flor loose to a long lace trail at the cuff, and the skirt is voluminous but not so much so as some of her more clownish gowns, panels of linen that shift nd show glimmers of matched silk between them in the pleating. Her waist is pinched into a waspish shape, her bottom and hips accentuated with little pillows below, but it is all very… moderate. Almost chaste. Rather practical. She could be a provincial baronesse out surveying the sheepfolds or something. At any rate, she dresses to suit her environs, not wanting any of the delicate white flowers to explode of blushing at the visage of Big Blue or anything of the sort. She's already found Virginie and expressed her congratulations, spoken with her for a little while— it's still fairly early in the morning, so there's nothing much in the way of trade to be interrupted here or missed at home, and so she enters into the gardens, next, to continue her little self-guided tour of the place.

Perpetua is to the left of the casement doors when Cochonnet emerges from the salon to the gardens, seated on a wrought iron bench, (white-painted of course), and protected from the strength of the morning sun by a billowing silk awning that's strung between pillars. There's a further assortment of chairs and tables arranged in convivial groups which also occupy the terrace, though none of these are currently in use. It's a place of calm and tranquility, with air that is scented by pots of bay and lemon trees. The setting is a fitting backdrop for Perpetua with her gown of blinding white that's cut to skim her upper torso before flowing in folds to pool at her feet. Industrious is the word for today, and her head is bent at a gentle angle to focus on the lace she works upon where the copper heads of pins that hold it positioned on the blue cushion in her lap glint in the shaded of the awning. She's not so industrious however that she misses Cochonnet's entrance, for her head lifts, her veils stirring with the movement, and amber-gold eyes alight on the woman. She's saved the effort of rising and greeting Coco however, by an adept who follows the Glycine through the doors, the boy stepping forward to ask if there is anything she might require.

Cochonnet can't help but be stood in her place for a moment by the great sense of serenity that pervades the space. A stillness and quietude of nature all so different in energy to the frenetic funhouse she haunts in the Glycine Salon. Her only motion in the moments after her arrival are a stirring of her shoulders, a gentle pressure of her ribcage against her bodice as she scents deeply of the garden and its offerings. The adept approaches, and she turns with a benevolent smile, placing a hand on his shoulder with a gentle pat and excusing him from his attendance with a warm tone of thanks. She'll admire the plants until he's taken his leave, then turn, marking the white flower at her needles, and move past toward a seat at a table not far off. "Expecting company?" she makes sure, of the courtesan, not intending to get in the way of her day's affairs, should they begin even at such an hour.

Perpetua's fingers still, and they press lightly to her work so the tension she's placed upon the threads isn't lost. Her eyes meet with Cochonnet's, and a shake of her head is given in response. "Not for a few hours yet." She's softly spoken, though that's to be expected, but even in its softness there's a warmth to it, a mellowness that would suggest her teenage years have been left in her wake. "Perpetua Rousse no Rose Blanche," she gives her introduction, eyes dipping away to look beyond the shade of the awning to the gardens beyond. "Would you care for some refreshment? The day will be uncomfortably hot not too long from now."

"Oh, no, it's all well," Coco waves off the offer, settling into her chosen seat and lifting one booted heel to rest on a seat opposite as she lounges cheerily. "I'm Cochonnet Cocotte— Coco, the Piglet of Glycine," she gives her most common epithets by which she is known in Marsilikos, leaving some of the more vulgar ones out of the conversation. "Perpetua… you've just come from Elua in time for this great schism, haven't you?" Someone's done her homework. Or at least pays attention. "How are you hanging in? I suppose the fact that the new salon grounds are so exquisite must be some balm upon the sudden change."

Perpetua's gaze falls back on Cochonnet as the introduction is made, and a gleam of comprehension flickers in her eyes. "Madam Cochonnet," she murmurs, "I have heard your name before." What she's heard causes an instant flush of colour paint itself along her jawline and into her cheeks, and her eyes dip back to the cushion in her lap and her fingers that press to the lace. She slides her work from her lap and lays it to rest at her side. "The grounds are lovely indeed, as is the rest of the salon." Her chin lifts and her head turns towards the house, her eyes lidding as if her lashes were suddenly too heavy. "Naturally," she continues, "it's not so grand as House Alyssum in Elua, but whomever designed this for us has done so with an great deal of empathy for the canon we serve." Her veil stirs, drawn in to mould her lips with the breath that she takes before speaking again. "Each day that passes sees me more and more settled. I imagine it's very much different to La Glycine, a place I fear I shall never see in person."

"Oh, darling, call me Coco, we all of us serve the same Angel," Coco laughs, a bright, sunny sound, just as her eyes are the blue of a crystal bright sky, "And I promise never to tell that a maiden of such virtue was ever so familiar with a pig slut like me," she trots out one of her less proper nicknames, joking a little between cana. "And it is— it's very different. I like it, though. I can see the appeal. But my problem has never been in not seeing the appeal." No matter of what sort of behavior. "And never say never. I passed through your gates and I'm yet to immolate. I hardly think that you would simply fall over and die of the atmosphere at ours, though you may care to come, as I have, during our less… populous hours, so as to not baffle our clientele or your own," she grins. "We must each keep up our appearances."

"Coco," Perpetua tries the feel of that name on her tongue. Beneath her veils there's the shadow of a smile, but that's an unwitting response to the pig slut reference. "It is far easier for you to step inside our doors," she reasons, "and it may even give you inspiration to be used at La Glycine. Should I visit your own, I fear that I would never be able to unsee that which should never be seen. At least not by an innocent…" Her voice trails off as her eyes meet quite suddenly, and deliberately, with Coco's. She winks, then looks to the garden again, the actions choreographed perfectly with the blush that colours her cheeks. One slender hand lifts and she fusses the lace of her veil where it's pinned to the silver headpiece that crowns her head, and it's with an absent-minded voice that she adds, "Perhaps a disguise if I did."

"And what about you? What are you called, at home?" Coco wonders, "Mademoiselle Perpetua being all very nice to hear, but burdensome in familiar moments," her sunshine-blue eyes glimmer with that impishness she exudes elsewise with a bump of her shoulders. "Oh, yes. I could help with a disguise, if you'd like. I'm a passable costumier." She narrows her eyes, "I could make a fine strapping boy of you, I suspect. Hell, I can make a fine, strapping boy of me, when I try, and even though I can't tell for all the robes, I can only presume I've got more curves than you." She has more curves than most people, after all. "And I thought that the art of unseeing was vital to your canon," she keeps it light, though, a gentle josh between them. "Every single willy the first one you've ever laid eyes on, and all of that."

Perpetua's laugh is a genuine laugh, and spills like warm Eisandine sun from her lips. "Indeed yes. I have seen more than any of my patrons could ever imagine. And if they were to imagine? Then I imagine that I would no longer be able to serve the Bright Lady." Her artifice has all but gone as she speaks with the Second, though she's mindful to keep an eye on the doors should, Naamah forbid, a patron arrive. "A boy, hm?" The concept appears to sit well, and humour shows in the gleam of her eyes where they settle in Coco's. "My friends and my family call me Pet."

"Pet… Oh, Pet… what a sweet little nickname that is. I intend to gain the rank to access its use sooner than later," Coco has a little air of braggadocio about her, just there, an effortless confidence that all but says, 'Guess what, I'm your friend now,' and has the sway of personality behind it almost to make it true. "So, see? Already so much you've unseen in your career, what's a room full of play dicks?" she waves it off airily. She's got her eye on the door, herself, meanwhile— she's got Perpetua's back in all this. Look at how she's dressed. Practially a novice. Her own favored patrons would hardly recognize her dressed this way. Maybe she's also in disguise, after a sort. "I'm not sure but that word of our salon's summer ball may have gotten to you yet. It's usually in the spring, but for circumstances beyond our control," she trails off with a shrug, evidently unwilling as yet to go into those details.

Perpetua's voice is artless with her answer to Coco's first question. "I believe that it might be true that they are considerably less trouble than real ones." She keeps a straight face, or if she doesn't then her veils do much to conceal her true feelings, and a slow pass of her fingers over her legs smoothes some wrinkles from her skirts. "Mm yes." she confirms, and her brows knit in thought. "I don't believe the news of your forthcoming ball has escaped the attention of anyone whom is connected with the Night Court." A novice peeks her head through the doors and Perpetua buttons her lip as the girl gives her a shy little wave. She returns the gesture with one of her own— then watches as the girl skips off to the gardens. "I think even the novices know of it," she admits in the quietest of tones. "It is to be a celebration of the foot, I believe?"

If Perpetua keeps a straight face, Coco's absolutely splits with a peal of laughter as she tosses her head back, sprawling an arm over the back of her seat and looking to Perpetua with a look of tickled mirth as she calms herself. "In some circumstances, yes, quite a lot less," she concedes, with a sparkle. "Has it, then? Oh, the theme has been open knowledge since the spring when it was first scheduled, but I'm glad word has gotten about so quickly. Yes, the rounded heel, the supple arch… the whole thing, really. It deserves celebration, as do those to whom Naamah appears barefoot. I feel as though it is an easy passion to dismiss as mere comedy, and its time has come to shine."

"I have had more than a couple of patrons," Perpetua admits when Cochonnet's mirth recedes so she can speak and be heard, "who wished nothing more of me than to peel my stockings from my feet." She floats a hand through the air, her supple fingers expressing the words she omits. "Such things are no more to be made fun of than those that prefer a handful of breast or a large rounded backside." She speaks frankly and openly as one courtesan to another, and her veil catches between her lips when she leans from the hips. She blows it away. "I am quite certain that your ball will be a success, though I trust you understand that I, for obvious reasons, cannot attend."

"Oh— well, to speak of peeling off stockings," Coco gets that leonine grin of hers, on the prowl even as she remains seated with one heel up and the other knee cocked outward in a position that would be utterly lewd if she were not covered in gown. She always sort of sits crotch-first. "I was hoping I would find some affable White Rose to help with the fete, in that regard. I am planning a contest, a display of left stockings, along with a list of their owners— not matched— that the visitors to the ball may investigate at their leisure, and then guess at the owner of each. The full list itself will never be shared, but the visitor who guesses closest to the truth will win a reward for his or her prowess in guessing. I understand that you cannot attend, but, for the purposes of normalizing a grand fetish, would you be willing to part with a stocking for the event? I think there will be no small number who would thrill to know they've had their faces up against what has lain against a chaste White Rose's leg," she makes her pitch.

Perpetua blinks. The conversation has taken a direction she had neither expected or anticipated, and she straightens her back so she's perfectly upright. "Oh—" she parrots Cochonnet's opening gambit, and her tongue pokes the side of her cheek as she sinks into thought. It's a second or two before she can speak. "It'd be an honour to surrender a stocking," she tells her. "Worn and not freshly laundered, I assume." It's a statement, not a question, and she gathers the folds of her skirts in her fingers, and eases them upwards to show off white stockinged legs. "Mine might be easily guessed."

"For preference, yes— if you can manage to wear it for a half a week to a week— changing out of it as needs for assignations, of course, that would be optimal," Coco suggests. The color— she regards it, and tips her head. You can almost see her calculating in her mind. "It could cause some easy guesses— but, then, perhaps they would think it too easy a guess, and discuss whether we might have tried to trick them with a different colored stocking," she posits, on the plus side. "Or we could actually so trick them, and I could buy for you a different color, if you'd like… or buy a white stocking for another donor to throw off the chase, as it were. At any rate, leave it to me, or allow me to consult with our Bryony-scented Glycine for best odds at this game— all we need from you is your kind-hearted participation," she tries to soothe Perpetua's fretting on that point.

"No." Perpetua decides. "It would be out of character for me to wear anything but white, so white it must be. I doubt," and here she smiles again, "that I will be the only one that wears white." Her fingers stretch and flex, and she releases her skirts so they slide back down to the floor. "I'll see to it that you have one suitably prepared, and I'll see to it that it's delivered to your hand the very morning of the fete." Arms stretch above her head before she reaches for the cushion at her side, and the lace pinned upon it. "It's been a delight to meet you Coco, made even moreso with the knowledge that I can assist you with your game."

L'Amour Mechant - Marsilikos Port

Imagine a cross between the seediest tavern you can imagine and a daring fantasy of a brothel in a very exotic setting, and you will get the main room of l'Amour Méchant. Red. Dark red are the drapes at the walls, heavy fabric swallowing the light of shaded oil lamps. Air laden heavily with scents both exotic and more familiar, common odour, of wine, ale and sweat and of smoke. As the occasional pipe is enjoyed here and there on plush cushioned seats and chaiselongues, the furniture grouped loosely across the room upon a worn floor of oak wood with a few aged and slightly flayed carpets added for a more intimate feel.

There is a bar to the side, flagons and bottles of clay lined up in shelves at the wall, with a barman pouring drinks for wenches to serve. Small tables are more or less crowded with guests, most of them sailors or others of common background. Some of the beauties of the l'Amour Méchant can be seen sitting in a lap here and there, scarcely clad, and very forthcoming in their attempts at plying their trade.

A door at the back leads out to the terrace, a space shared with the adjoining Kraken's Den. And it is here, where an apple tree raises its lampion-adorned branches from the confines of an atrium-like courtyard, amidst comfortable seats, archways that have been painted a mediterranean beige and the occasional palm tree added in for decoration. Chatter and giggles fill the air, both inside of the building and outside in the courtyard. A stairway leads up to the upper floor, to rooms that offer a bit of more privacy.

<FS3> Cochonnet rolls Stagecraft: Great Success. (8 3 7 8 4 5 1 8 5)

l'Amour Mechant, early evening. Not too early as to be empty, but not too late as to be utterly rowdy. The door opens, and a tall gent steps in, a dark figure in boots and tough breeches, a cloak and a hood. He skulks to a seat, thudding down into it with his thighs man-spread and drawing back his cloak to reveal a pouch of coin at his belt, just beside a considerable heft at the center of the trou, to which he has no issue drawing attention in conjunction with the bag of coin, which he tosses onto the table with a hand wrapped in something like a fingerless riding glove or a very thin padded brawling-glove to spare the knuckles at fisticuffs.

One of those about currently working over at L'Amour is Charlotte, she's not hanging out of her blouse as much as usual over here, probably on account of the cool and stormy day out there today, though she still is showing off a fair bit. The gent coming in gets her attention, and she starts walking over his way, flashing a bright smile towards him, "Welcome to L'Amour Mechant. Anything I can get for you?"

<FS3> Cochonnet rolls Acting: Success. (2 3 5 1 4 7 2 1 2)

Cochonnet spends 1 luck points on re-rolling Acting. >.>.

<FS3> Cochonnet rolls Acting: Success. (1 1 1 3 7 4 4 1 1)

The guy eases an elbow back onto the back of the chair, reclining to a sort of crotch-foward lean and wagging one knee as he regards Charlotte on her approach. "Is this Charlotte? Charlotte the Harlot?" There's something musically playful to the voice… almost feminine, though masked with a certain tigrine growl over the words. "Feel up my sack in your hand and guess what its contents might buy me," he tells her, meaning, of course, the money pouch on the table, but decidedly phrased in a purposeful lewdness.

Charlotte comes up to the table.. surely feminine sounding men aren't the strangest thing that's come through here, though this one in particular might be close. She'll lean across the table, giving a view down her blouse as she does as she reaches for the pouch, "I'm Charlotte.. though, Charlotte the Harlot, that's actually something noone's called me before, believe it or not." She says with a wry little grin as she reaches to give a squeeze to the pouch in question.

"At least not to your face," Charlotte's visitor points out, drawing a thin smile and letting his knee wag in metronomic time when she gives him a preview of her wares. Really, Coco can barely believe that nobody has put that together before this, but, then— she can't say that out loud and still keep character. The pouch is definitely full. Even if it's all small coin, which, from the way it moves, it is probably not, it's a good deal more than she would usually take away from a customer. "What do you think?"

<FS3> Charlotte rolls Barmaid: Good Success. (4 7 5 4 2 4 6 1 6 7)

Charlotte squeezes and fondles the bag, probably more getting a gauge for what's in it than putting on a show, but there's probably a bit of a show getting put on there too. She grins a little bit, "Well." She says with a grin at the 'man', "Probably just about anything you wanted here I suspect, assuming it's as full as I imagine it to be."

The dark stranger draws his knee in steadily until he's got his weight planted on his large boots and stands smoothly before Charlotte, looking down at her with piercing blue eyes from the dark of his hood. "Then why don't we take it upstairs— you can count it out, and we can come to just how far 'anything' goes?" he proposes.

Charlotte flashes a broad grin at that, "Well, let's then." She says, reaching back for the pouch to scoop it up, offering out her other arm to the dark stranger for the walk up the stairs towards one of the private rooms.

<FS3> Cochonnet rolls Unarmed: Great Success. (4 2 3 2 7 5 7 7 7 4 7)

The dark stranger in the big boots and the cape waits until Charlotte has grabbed the pouch of coin off of the table, then, rather than taking the offered arm, he merely bends a knee and whisks her off of her feet and into his arms with a safe and steady grasp, moving on to the stairs and going up them sideways so as not to bonk her head on the wall.

Charlotte is hefted up with a little squeal of surprise, but not one of someone afraid or anything, which is made especially clear after the little giggle that escapes her lips, "Well.. this is one way to be taken upstairs!" She exclaims as she's hauled handily.

The gentleman gets to the door and eases a knee up against the wall to continue holding Charlotte the Harlot upright while he navigates a doorknob— it's a tricky move, but he makes it! He carries her across the threshold before finally depositing her onto her feet just as gently and deftly as he had borne her aloft, then he turns and faces the clothing chair, evidently fit to disrobe while Charlotte counts the coin.

Charlotte goes and flounces herself down onto the bed, and dumps the pouch out to give it a quick counting as the gentleman goes to disrobe. The nice thing about all these years working in the tavern is one becomes quick at counting currency!

It is a lot. Not, like, exorbitant riches, but easily three or four times what she would usually make in an evening. It may be that this gentleman is just new to the place and not sure of the average going rate. He, meanwhile, whips off his cape and shrugs out of his waistcoat, and, if Charlotte isn't too distracted counting the coin, she'd notice that as the disguise comes apart he appears decidedly more feminine. The waist of his trousers are cutting across the hips, giving their occupant a more masculine line in the garb, but as he untucks his shirt and unbuttons it, there's no mistaking those hips. Not to mention that when he turns around his opened shirt shows his chest thoroughly bandaged down into the look of a masculine pectoral. No, this is definitely a woman, if one of somewhat Amazonian frame. She grins at the Harlot.

The coins are returned to the pouch, and the pouch is lost in her cleavage as Charlotte turns about to see that the man is infact actually not a man, but a really big woman, "Oh…" She says in a bit of surprise, "Wow, uh.. well there goes what I was expecting you to propse." She says after a moment, "So uh…" Perhaps at a bit of a loss for words.

"What's wrong, Charlotte the Harlot?" Coco, in her only half-convinced masculine rowl. "What did you suspect I had in mind?" she grins, stepping forward, still sort of following her crotch, as though there were a dog therein tracking a rabbit to its burrow and drawing Coco along behind it. She draws off her shirt, entirely, tossing it backward to the chair and exposing her somewhat muscular upper arms. Not that Charlotte needs to see them to know what a firm embrace the woman has. "Do you know me?" she wonders.

"Well." Charlotte says as she shifts to lounge there on the bed, turning properly to face her now, one leg coming up on the bed and lifting her skirt, the other still dangling off and spread. She reaches to tug at the tie of her bodice and let it fall free, exposing her breasts. "I don't." She says, shaking her head a little, "I suppose I probably should huh?" she asks, "And when the boys come in with that much money, it usually means they're paying for friends, or they're going to work your ass so hard you'll have trouble walking the next day. If you're lucky and they don't ask for weirder things!" She exclaims.

"No, that's alright," Coco answers. "I went to a lot of trouble to make sure nobody here knew who I was," she issues with a winsom mischief glinting in her eyes. The bosoms falling free, well, who wouldn't be impressed? And Coco will go one further, beginning to unfasten her trousers, thighs genially spread and big boots at shoulder width, shimmying them loose and then reaching in to draw out that rather substantial parcel she'd been smuggling— a phallus, exquisitely wrought, and worn bound to her groin as a strap-on, now sitting patiently atop the trousers still sitting just below her hips. She holds it in her hand, the other hand on her hip, giving the shaft a little fluffing wank, as though she were actually preparing herself, or just pleasuring herself idly while watching the harlot lounge. "I'm Coco. Cochonnet Cocotte, the Piglet of Glycine— Chief Kinklorist and Master Cocksmith. I always like it when they ask for weirder things, me," she grins, but that's… fairly well known, about her.

"Well, maybe my backside will be worked raw." Charlotte says as the strap-on springs into view, her hands reaching to hike her skirts up a bit further as she laughs. "And ah, that's quite the title you have…" She says as she looks over at the woman, "What should I call you by?" She asks curiously.

- Censored -

"Call me Coco," Cochonnet smiles, quite benevolent. "And I still can't believe you've never been called Charlotte the Harlot," she laughs, a warm, sunny tone, the masculine rowl now completely evaporated. "I came here to meet you. And to win a favor from you," she grins. "You've heard, perhaps, of our upcoming fetish ball?"

- Censored -

Charlotte gives a head tilt at mention of the fetish ball, "I'd heard something about a party up the way yes. Not a whole lot about it though, I have to say."

- Censored -

"That coin, by the way, in the purse, is yours, for meeting with me. Of course, if you're fascinated by my little creation here," Coco grins. "I would hate to keep you panting. But, yes, I came about the ball. I'm organizing an event for it and I would like your help. I would be happy to give you a ticket to the event in return, which you would be free to use, or… sell, if you wish." And, given that the entry fees are in the thousands of ducats, it could be a real payday.

Charlotte laughs, - Censored - She humms softly, "What ah, would I have to do for that ticket?" she asks, a bit of that dockside suspicion perhaps crossing her features at an offer possibly too good to be true.

- Censored -

"All I want from you is a stocking. And quite possibly to let me call you Charlotte the Harlot in front of the nobility of Marsilikos, and make you famed as such. Would you shy from that?"

"Well.. deal." - Censored - Charlotte hmns a little, "Wait, you'd pay that much for a stocking??"

"Well, I think I know where they want you to stick it," Coco jokes, because… well, it was right there, how was she supposed to let it pass by? "I'm hosting the ball, darling, the ticket costs me literally nothing. And if you sell it to someone who misbehaves, he or she will be seen out easily enough. But sell it to someone responsible and I think he or she will be thoroughly contented with the event. Or come, yourself… you never know whom you might meet. There will be a lot of very wealthy people there, who are used to paying a great deal more for company than your patrons are. At any rate, it could turn out well for you any number of ways. And, yes. I can provide it for you, if you'd like. Wear it for a few days straight and deliver it without washing to House Glycine the morning of the event. The theme is foot fetishism, and I'm looking for a variety of donors to make the smelling and feeling of the stockings a more intriguing experience. There will be a contest to see how many stockings each ball-goer can match to the names of the donors."

"People really pay for that sort of thing?" Charlotte asks curiously, her head turning a little bit as she considers the offer being proposed to her, hmning ever so faintly as she asks, "Would that mean you'd want me to wear it for everything I was doing, or?" she asks curiously.

"If you fear it might become… unduly soiled, in the course of general business, then just wear it for a week, but remove it for your assignations," Coco suggests. "We just want it to get a good funk on it, you know," she grins. "What, you've never had a patron want to play with your feet?"

"No not really." Charlotte says with a shake of her head at the question about feet, "And yeah, that's what I was sort of wondering." She agrees with a bit of a grin, "Because I suspect there'd be a bit of a mess that would get on them during the course of business. I just wasn't sure if that's the sort of thing you were hoping would get on it when you came to me."

Delphine's Chambers - Baphinol Residence

Dark red hues dominate the chambers of the Dowager Vicomtesse, a dark cherry tone mostly with accents of lighter red, as these are her favorite colors. A living area is the first thing to be encountered upon entering, with a table of red cherry wood, surrounded by comfortable chairs of the same material, upholstered in red velvet. Additional flat cushions on these chairs provide comfortable seating at the table which is more to the front of the room.

Red damask covers the walls in the adjoining bed chamber, in the center of which a large four poster bed can be found, blanket and pillows kept in red, and black drapes with red embroidery to the sides drawn back and held with a red cord each. On the wall opposite of the bed is a painting, depicting a sensual scene between Naamah and King Persis. There is a huge wardrobe, holding a variety of dresses of the Dowager Vicomtesse, to meet each social requirement, and a vanity with an oval mirror in a silver frame, exquisitely done, with a few personal things scattered on the small table before it.

Coco, in fine feather, one of her gowns of favored hue and cut — bright sky blue like her eyes, with a low cut underneath her bosom, leaving them out in the air, but shielding them with a bright pink parasol that matches the pink sapphire flowers that dot her elaborate coif and the bright gloss with which she has colored both her lips and her nipples. She's come a-visiting the city residence du Baphinol in the hour or so after lunch, and, handing off her umbrella to a somewhat baffled-eyed attendant, she has asked after the Dowager Vicomtesse de l'Orange, whether she might come down or she, herself, be allowed up to see her.

Having such bare-breasted visitor coming by in the hour after lunch may baffle many an attendant. In the case of the dowager vicomtesse, however, the attendant in question seems less reluctant to guide Cochonnet up the stairs, merely asking her to wait outside at the door to the suite for a moment while she checks with Delphine. Cochonnet will have the benefit of a nice view over the parlor downstairs, and who knows? Whoever may be down there will be granted a nice view in turn. It won't take long, however, and the attendant reappears and asks La Cochonnet to enter, as the lady is now ready to receive her.

Coco will find Delphine in a rather casual attire, a robe of dark red thrown over a nightgown of sorts, dark hair as of yet not quite in a state to be presentable. A handmaid is working on that, for now, as Delphine is seated before a vanity, carefully watching the handmaid's work in progress on what will soon become an impressive pile of courtly fashion hair.

"Mademoiselle Cochonnet," Delphine greets the arrival, seeking eye contact through the mirror as she dares not to move her head. "I am pleased to meet you." Her gaze drops a little to appreciate the view on display, and her lips curve in a pleasant smile. "I see you have a penchant for summer fashion. It must be quite hot outside."

Cochonnet herself is a bafflement to many, wherever she goes and in whatever guise. But she tips her chin down with a cheeky smile to the attendant, turning, shoulders back and hands folded at the small of her back, back toward the wall while she awaits admittance, gaze loitering around the details of the place nor stopping any one spot for long. When asked to enter, she pops up onto the toes of the comfortable embroidered slippers that are hiding underneath all of that gown skirt (she lines an impressive skirt, as though the dress might have to make up in amplitude below what it lacks on top), landing on her hels again and effecting a nice little jiggle as she turns and enters with a streamlined sweeping motion, eyes going straight to the mirror just as if she were meeting the Lady face to face. She dips into an impressively low curtsey, then rises again. "My Lady Dowager Vicomtesse… and how charmingly déshabillée," she purrs a little bit. "I will have to mark the hour a lucky one to visit."

"One could assume as much," Delphine purrs in response, her eyes lidding just far enough to lend the remark a somewhat cheeky quality. "You must forgive me, that I am not yet in a state to receive you in a presentable manner. It is still early in the day… and last night," she bites her lower lip, "I was kept up for much longer than I would have expected. By the way, Genevieve… Has the young lord already left?" This addressed to the handmaid who gives a nod after a moment of consideration. "Yes, mylady. I think I saw him depart, just half an hour ago."

Delphine receives this information with a faint shrug of her shoulders, and her attention and focus returns to Cochonnet, whom she now once again admires in the reflection of her mirror. "Either way… Mademoiselle, I know who you are, even if we haven't yet gotten the chance to get more closely acquainted… What circumstance do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"

"The chance to see you so deserves thanksgiving rather than forgiveness," Coco answers, stepping idly closer, making the bell of her gown swing about her legs in a sliding sashay that matches more the wiles of her hips than her tread. "It sounds as though you have quite the stud to hand," she shrugs up her soulders in time with a cheersome squint of her eyes, a knowing gesture. "I come to you in your office as patronesse of the Salon Glycine, my Lady Delphine— I hoped that I might crave from you a favor." Whether in the general sense, or in the more specific sense, it's hard to tell from context, but that seems to bave been left so on purpose. "You have heard, by now, of our new date established for the fetish ball."

The handmaid deals with Delphine's dark brown curls with the nimble routine of someone who most likely sees to this chore at least once per day. Twirling them here and there and fastening them into a do, even as Delphine holds still. Her eyes do not, however, as they follow Cochonnet in her delightful approach towards her side. "I am quite fond of your Jasmines," the dowager vicomtesse admits with a grin and a gleam in her eyes. "La Glycine is one if not the favored salon of mine here in Marsilikos. I even tried to recommend it to my own daughter, but… she preferred to seek out a White Rose instead, only to become horribly infatuated with the shy flower… Ah… daughters." She elicits a soft sigh. "But. Yes. Salon Glycine. You mention a favor, so you have me curious what it may be?" Daring a slight turn of her head she looks towards the Second, dark eyes glittering as she enjoys the view from this changed angle. "I think I heard of a fetish ball, of sorts. But… could you enlighten me, what it will be about?"

"Oh, dear," Coco titters a moment at the poor daughter lost to the come-hither glances of a shy rose. "The White Roses are guilesome, like that. Hardly any wonder they have taken to their own garden. Our Jasmine-scented Glycines are never quite so coy, are they? But a bright delight," she comes settling by the side of the vanity, turning so that she might look Delphine in the eye, leaning one shoulder back against the wall with a rolling motion that an't help but improve her display. "One of my favoured causes which I have sought to champion in my tenure as Second of the Orchid Glycines has been the elevation and destigmatization of many of Naamah's less… common guises. There are passions in the world of too many colors to count, and they all deserve to be celebrated. This year we are celebrating the visage of the bare-footed Naamah and those to whom she comes bare-footed."

Delphine's smile brightens considerably as she is treated to Cochonnet's reply and the wonderfully alluring display of her lean against the wall. "Ah. The feet. I see. Horribly underestimated and yet so beautiful and also prone to attentions," the dowager vicomtesse remarks. "So your fete is to celebrate the feet and their beauty? I definitely approve of such noble cause." She waves to the attendant, "Please, bring us two glasses of wine, the white, sparkling sort." Her gaze flicks back to Cochonnet, "How can I help in such an endeavour? I am definitely planning to attend, Mademoiselle."

"Ooh, bubbles," Coco approves of the order, shrugging up the shoulder not leant back against the wall with a comical little scrunch of her nose to show her approbation the further. "I'm glad that you see the cause as worthy and the subject as beautiful. I would say I couldn't wait to see you there, but that there is a lot to do, yet, in order to prepare, such that skipping the intervening weeks would be utterly unfeasible and irresponsible," she giggles. "Speaking of which— we intend a great contest as the centerpiece of the function, in which we will display the left stockings of some number of notable figures of our fair city… and leave the public to fill out cards assigning names to each, guessing over just whose hose he has just had the pleasure to rub his face against. As such, we are looking for donors of name and note to render up a well-worn silk to our cause."

The attendant returns quickly with the two glasses of sparkling white wine. "Mademoiselle," she hands one glass to Cochonnet and the other to Dephine, who without further ado lifts it in toast and then downs it in one single swig.

"So you require a stocking of mine?", the dowager vicomtesse inquires after a moment. "A worn stocking carrying my particular scent? Genevieve!" An inquiring glance is shot the way of the handmaid by way of the mirror. "I hope you haven't given last night's stockings to the washer woman already?" There is a shake of the head from the handmaid, and a soft exhale of relief from Delphine. "I fear there was some wine spilt on the stocking in question," she confesses towards Cochonnet, her voice low and the tone matter-of-factly. "Some of this…" She waves the empty glass of hers about. "So in addition to my scent, the stocking may carry a hint of Baiser de Naamah. I hope this doesn't pose a problem?"

Cochonnet takes her own bubbly in hand and lifts it to meet the toast, letting the fuzz tickle her nose a little bit before she, too, drinks it down in a swallow to match Delphine's. "A worn stocking, yes— but not yesterday's, s'il vous plait," she tries to stave off Genevieve rushing off to find one. "The smell should be fresh… we're asking our donors to wear the stocking in question for three to five days before the fete itself, and to deliver the stockings either the evening prior or the morning of, for preference, for optimal freshness going in to the event. If you wish to remove it when you have callers or appointments with those who would not appreciate the odor, of course feel free to wear and remove it as you need."

"Oh, I see." Delphine bites her lip, not really repressing the bright smile that comes at Cochonnet's explanation. "A stocking's scent must be as fresh as possible. After all, the ball is still a few weeks away? I may take care to wear the stocking as you request, for three days, and maybe sprinkle some wine onto it for a more personal note, and have it delivered to the salon on the morning of the fete. Would such be acceptable?"

Genevieve stops in her tracks, already almost on her way to fetch the stocking. The handmaid gets back to the task of Delphine's hairdo, lowering her gaze and not showing through her expression or her glances what her own thoughts on the exchange might be.

"After all," Coco agrees with Delphine's assessment with a sly-spreading grin of her own. "For three days, that sounds tremendous. And the vintage will be a hint to those noses in the know… no?" she winks. "Your patronage and support for the event is a blessing, Lady Delphine. I will direct our men not to accept an admission fee from you at the door, but to send you in with my love and welcome," she pledges, stepping away from the wall, at last, finding a spot on the vanity on which to set her glass, and then dipping into a curtsey, holding it long enough to ease forward and place a bright sapphire pink kiss onto Delphine's cheek.

"Exactly," Delphine smiles as she lifts her chin just so, winking back at Cochonnet. "Those who have a good nose for wine… they might easily have a guess." Her hazel eyes observe that dip of a curtsey, and appreciate the lack of hurry in which it is executed. Her smile deepens when the courtesan leans forward to place a kiss to her cheek, and - be it by accident or a deliberate move - the dowager vicomtesse turns her head just in that moment, to capture that kiss with her lips, that have the taste of Baiser de Naamah still clinging to them.

La Glycine - Night Court

The glorious dome of La Glycine rises overhead here, ribs of veiny marble with studs of bronze inset at measured intervals rise to meet at the wide mouth of the oculus above, through which a shaft of light moves over the course of the day, wending its way from one side of the atrium to the other in an insistant caress. The floor is a patterned sequence of white marble squares inlaid with green marble trellis patterns, at the center of each of which is a round golden circle around a stud of glistening emerald. In the middle of the floor, directly underneath the oculus above, is a round pool of rainwater with a high rim for seating and a collection of fish and turtles living inside.

The lofty space is open with a pair of giant bronze doors leading to the courtyard to the south, and the north wall is largely taken up with the descent of a massive stairwell which provides a dramatic route of entry down into the atrium from the Northern Wing and beyond. The Eastern and Western walls each sport two smaller archways; both the eastern archways lead into the Baths, while the two to the west grant access to the Gambling Hall and Hall of Oddities.

Furnishings are strictly at an ad-hoc basis, temporary for the need, but may occasionally include furnishings hung from the studs in the great domed ceiling.

Jehan-Pascal has had, unfortunately, to re-schedule his visit to La Glycine… twice, already, after receiving a very kind invitation from a beautiful young man he knows there. But work is work, and work is thick in the summer— and he's sent gifts along with each of his apologies to Paris, a ring and a pendant to pledge his affection and gratitude for the invitation. Now he comes in person, beatifully dressed in a fawn-colored doublet and breeches, pale blue hose, grey slippers with a black heel, a hint of lavender stain upon his lip and his triple-coil of grey pearls wrapped twice around his throat, hanging once low against his chest.

Paris has been touched by the young lord's generosity and he makes sure to show it, the young courtesan wearing both the ring on a finger and the pendant on a thong around his neck, his shirt undone halfway down his chest, maybe to show off, maybe just due to the heat. He greets JP in person, standing on tip toe to kiss the handsome lord on the cheek and takes his hands. "A pleasure to see you again, milord, welcome to House Glycine.." he leads him into the salon, smiling. "a drink?"

Jehan-Pascal dips down to meet Paris halfway to the kiss, accepting it to his cheek and then tipping his head to kiss Paris on the opposite cheek in return, holding out his hands, at the same time, to take Paris' and give them a gentle squeeze. "I feel very welcome already," he smiles. "I was honored by the invitation, I'm only sorry I wouldn't have answered it in a more timely fashion," he murmurs, keeping his voice low, and, if he can, at least one ahnd tangled up in Paris' hand as he trails along after him. "Love one."

Paris doesn't let go of JP's hands, dancing a bit on his on bare feet and leading the young lord to a comfy couch, helping him sit. "On, you've been very king in answering…thank you so much." another kiss to JP's cheek and then the boy returns with a large glass, half filled with ice and with an amber liquid in it. "Ice, that they've been keeping in the wine cellar, managed to get our hands on some, with some nice brandy.." He cozies himself up at JP's side and grins. "Love the pearls."

<FS3> Jehan-Pascal rolls Composure: Success. (2 1 8 4 3 4 1)

Jehan-Pascal settles in with Paris' aid, wriggling back into a corner of the couch and propping his legs outward diagonally across it, casting a bashful little look down at Paris' expressions of gratitude. "It's the least I can do, really," he murmurs, lifting curled fingers to his cheek to settle it there while Paris busies himself with bringing drink. Which, once he does bring it, Jehan-Pascal welcomes with a smile, though one that might be a little political in tone. Brandy is not his drink and never has been, but he will drink it so kindly offered up by the sweet courtesan. Who very helpfully distracts him with reference to the pearls. "Oh! Do you like them? Fav gave them to me, and… well, I think they're tremendous." That much he can bubble over, at least.

Paris grins and nods. "They suit you well, milord.." He slips his hand under the rope of pearls, brushing his fingers against JP's skin and smiling. "Well, they definitely suit your style…" He says lazily , putting his legs over JP's lap , the boy seems in a very catlike , cuddly mood today. "And what have you been doing lately, milord?"

"I think so… and so does she," Jehan-Pascal grins, just a little impish in delivery, a scandalous statement dressed up in innocent clothes. Goosebumps shoot down his arm when the little fingers sneak up under the pearls and to his neck, and he giggles a little like it tickles him, shrugging up tht shoulder and then taking a long drink of the brandy, swallowing and feeling the heat in his sinuses; it makes his eyes water a little, but it's not bad. "Work, mostly. We're in the thick of the trade season and supervising the outgoing shipments is a whole," he takes a deep breath, "Thing," he sums up. "What about you, darling boy?"

"That is good, then, I'm glad you're happy!" Paris seems genuinely pleased indeed, the Jasmine courtesan grinning with delight, he knows when theres a naughty hint in a conversation. "I've mostly been lazy, enjoying the summer, haven't taken too many assignments, but mostly drew up various dresses and outfits.." he says.

Jehan-Pascal is happy; it shows. But he leaves it there, leaves it with a big grin that tells more than words could the way his wife has won her place in his heart. And he listens to Paris' summer plans, and, attention piqued, "Oh, yes? You know I've been revamping my wardrobe this year. First time in three years, it's really past time I had all new. You'll show me your designs sometime?"

Paris nods and smiles. "Well, I mostly design on order, for events or persons, but I can definitely do a few sketches for you and see how it would suit you!" The boy seems quite unabashed today as he slips his long fingers into JP's snifter and picks up a half melted ice cube, rubbing it over his own forehead. "Ah, that's better….I do love this ice, mind you I wouldn't live where they have it actually all over the place for extended periods of time."

Jehan-Pascal takes the opportunity of Paris' fetching that ice cube from his drink to finish it in a swallow and then stretch his arm over the side of the couch where Paris won't feel an impulse to try to refill it for him, all while looking very much like he's just getting comfy. "I don't know, I think I could do well in a colder climate. The heat makes me want to melt. But, yes, I would love a piece by you, if you would make one for me."

Paris beams and licks that ice cube until it's completely melted, then nods. "we shall ave to see what we can do for you then." The young man also seems to remember something. "Oh, and I think you may heave heard about the party we're having at La Glycine? The foot ball?" He raises an eyebrow suggetsively.

Yes, melt rather like that ice cube on Paris' lips, which is distracting enough to watch, isn't it. "Oh, yes, the foot ball… the, ah, fetish fete," Jehan-Pascal offers up playfully. "I have most certainly heard. I'm curious to attend— it's not really my… well, thing, I suppose, but I could be wrong— I've been proven wrong before. And if anyone can convince me, I believe fully that you might, darling Paris," he adds with an easy smile.

Paris bats his long eyelashes and winks. "Well, you know, it's…all about discovering new pleasures and delights, I think that's what Mademoiselle Cochonnet had in mind..I mean, you know, everyone just visits their houses of choice, this way we open…new experiences." He takes JP's hand and kisses his fingers. "And there's all sorts of style of play ..and involvement that you can take part in."

"I'm sure it will be a delight, and I'm very much looking forward to visiting," Jehan-Pasal assures, yielding up his hand without complaint and with a certain pliant ease to his arm, eyes half-lidding when Paris kisses his fingers. "Would I spoil the surprise if I were to ask what sort of experiences you'll be demonstrating during this… foot ball?" he grins.

Paris doesn't stop kissing those fingers, even turning JP's hand over and laying a few kisses on the inside of his palm. "Oh, now..that would be telling, milord.." he bats his eyelashes agains and chuckles. MAybe because he wishes to be mysterious, or simply because he doesn't fully know, yet.

Jehan-Pascal's wrist makes a subtle crack when it's turned like that… not in a painful way, just in the way that happens when a fellow spends a great deal of time writing. It feels nice, though, and Jehan-Pascal sighs and slumps just a little, tipping his head back while Paris kisses his palm. "Well, if you're as good with feet as you are with hands… I can't think it won't be an unqualified success."

Paris smiles and bats his eyelashes a bit more. "Well, milord, if you will come to the party…and maybe I'll even dress you up for it, would you donate a stocking for the…um…enjoyment of the people who will be there?'

"A stocking?" Jehan-Pascal is momentarily baffled by the request, then, a little bit of understanding dawning, his ears pinken a little. "Oh— I see. A stocking," he considers. "I'm guessing it won't just be… mine?" he supposes. That would be a little awkward. But if he's in good company… "I don't see why not. I've got plenty. Any particular color?"

Paris chuckles and opens his hand. "Feel free and fancy, milord…surprise us!" he sits up a bit and kisses Jehan-Pascal on the cheek. "Thank you for indulging us.. I promise you shan't be sorry.."

"I never thought I should be," Jehan-Pascal answers, nuzzling his nose against Paris' cheek, taking a slow breath and closing his eyes.

Courtyard - Ducal Palace

The impressive gilded roof of the Dome of the Lady with its many towers can be seen from afar, it is the glittering beacon welcoming ships back home as they sail towards the harbor. Sheltered behind thick walls, the courtyard has a fountain in its center, wrought from white marble. The pair of fish chasing each other above the waterline look almost realistic, due to a love for detail of the artisans involved in their creation. Water splashes from their maws into the uppermost of three basins, each feeding the one beneath it.

From the cobblestone of the courtyard, stairs rise to the entrance of the ducal palace proper. The adjacent guest tower is where foreign dignitaries and visitors of high station have their quarters. The stables are accessible through a gate big enough to led a mounted rider through, just beside the gate house, that is watched at all times by guards wearing the Mereliot colors of blue and yellow above their chain armor. Under the ornamented arch of the gatehouse, an ever flowing stream of people are passing through, palace staff on errands as well as nobles and dignitaries, seeking audience with the Duchesse of Eisande.

A letter had been waiting for Desarae Mereliot when, dressed in white cotton shift over which a emerald silk robe had been thrown, she sat to break her fast on the balcony of her suite. She'd not opened it immediately, allowing herself to wonder on its contents as she peeled a peach and neatly segmented it. Fingers had been dipped in a bowl of water to rinse them clean of peach juice and they'd been dried on a linen napkin before she'd lifted the parchment, broken the seal that bore the imprint of the Glycine salon, and cast an eye over the contents. A reply had been sent.

Several hours later, and at the time she'd suggested in her response, she's to be found in the palace courtyard. She's dressed in a tightly corseted gown of ivory brocade, and the chain of golden discs that she wears slung loosely about her waist, glints in the afternoon sun. She's seated upon a wrought iron bench in one of the alcoves set into the wall that runs from the gatehouse to the guest tower where foreign ambassadors to the city are housed. A pleasant and shaded place to be in this afternoon heat, and mindful for the safety of his ward, her cassiline stands close.

Dressing for court is always a bit of a high-wire act for Coco. Her usual manner of scandalous kit might, depending on the day and the attendance, win her either great applause or those titters of uncertainty which can grow into the stony silence of disapprobation. So when she is admitted into the courtyard, she is conspicuous from a mile off in a gown of the brightest sky blue, with layers of rustled silk spread wide in a perimeter about her prim little gleam-black boots, but above, where her bosom would gnerally be bare, a bright white shirt-front with a collar, instead, though the collar is open and the buttons half-unbuttoned, the remaining ones straining suggestively to keep her bosoms in check. Whatever arms the shirt may have had are gone, but she wears cute white wrist-length gloves with a lace frill, and she carries a gold-colored fan with glimmering gilt embroidery, poised to shade her face and throat, making it easier for her to spot her mark and flutter the fan to catch the sun and glint toward her as a signal of La Cochonnet's arrival even before she begins drifting closer.

Whilst Desarae's cassiline would still disapprove of Cochonnet, despite her watered-down appearance, the Mereliot herself does not. A smile blossoms on her lips, delicately dimpling one cheek. "Madame Cochonnet. Please do come and sit." A hand lifts from her lap and pats at the cushions beside her. "It's been an age since I last visited La Glycine, and longer still since I've had the pleasure of your company. Chavaise keeps me busy of late." She looks well and speaks well, having completed the transition from girlhood to womanhood in the intervening months. The diamond she was has been cut and polished in preparation for her ascension to her title, and her head cocks to an angle as her smile deepens. Intelligent eyes that belong to the Morhban side of her inheritance, sparkle with amusement. "Your letter has sparked my curiousity, and I'm eager to hear the reason for it."

A little flutter over a smile aimed at the disapproving Cassiline, either to tease him or to beg his forebearance, and Coco sweeps past him, lowering herself into a terribly low curtsey, if only to display how wide these damn skirts can get when allowed to flatten out. Then, rising, "My Lady Desarae," she utters, cherishing the name in her mouth and performing a quite neat maneuver in turning and making her skirts all sway to one side before sitting on the opposite hip, trapping them behind her where they won't get muddled in the whole bench situation. "You've been missed. And how you've blossomed while we've been missing you," she takes a moment to wonder. "I had hoped to entreat that you might come to visit for our upcoming fetish ball."

"The whispers on the wind are true then…" Desarae states with the quirk of one brow. "I am honoured for the personal invitation, and having never been to one of your particular balls before, you can imagine that I am all eager anticipation." And why should she not be? Are the parties and fetes thrown by the Glycine Piglet not legendary within the city and far beyond its walls? She won't be aware of the expression on her cassiline's face as the invitation is extended which is, to say the least, suffering, and her hand reaches for the piglet's. "Thank you for saying that I've been missed. Had I remained in service, my marque may well have been finished by now."

Cochonnet turns her white-gloved hand over and receives Desarae's hand in a more masculine manner than most might, then reaches over and pats the top of Desarae's hnd with her other palm, crafting a calm, soothing hand sandwich accompanied by that sunny eye contact. "I have no doubt of it," she agrees with the would-have-been Courtesan, soon-to-be Marquisse. "Your story is…" she shakes her head, "such a difficult one, Lady Desarae, and you are an exemplar, to the people, of equanimity in adversity. I would very much like to offer you a token of admission for the fete," the normal cost of entry being rather exorbitant, "And, all at once, to beg a favour from you for its success."

"I could not have survived it all were it not for the strength of those around me," Desarae admits, and her hand remains quietly captured, cocooned within Cochonnet's. "But, a token?" Her voice lifts in unexpected delight. "How kind of you." But there's a sting in the tail it would seem — nd that sting's a favour. Her smile doesn't diminish in the face of such things, though she does drags her upperlip over her teeth before commiting herself further. "But of course, madame. But only if such a thing is within my power to grant. If not, I shall pay my entrance and my escort's, like everyone else."

Cochonnet draws a thumb gently along Desarae's knuckles, letting her hand remain safely ensconced as long as she would care to let them. "Oh— no, my Lady Desarae. The token is yours, whether you wish to grant the favor or not," she prefaces the ask, not wanting Desarae to feel undue pressure. "It may not be a thing everyone is comfortable in granting, after all. If you come," entendre devilishly doubled, "that will be recompense enough for the token. But we are planning an exhibition game, in which the left stockings of several Marsilikos notables will be put on display for the guests to feel and to smell and to try to guess whose hose are whose. I can't help but to think that there are those who would be fascinated to consider what the stocking of such a paragon may be like."

"Paragon?" That evidently amuses Desarae, and a flutter of laughter fills the divide between herself and Cochonnet. "I'm not certain I'd use that word myself, I can think of several other epithets that might be used when speaking of me." But things have been asked of her, and she dismisses her amusement with a wave of a hand through the air. "I…" She halts herself, and eyes that rival emeralds, hold fast in Cochonnet's. Credit where credit's due, no blush finds her cheeks as she consider the Second's unusual request. "Yes." the word is decisive. "I cannot claim to have the close acquaintence with many of the city, but it will amuse me to see what guesses are made."

"I'm certain I would," Coco returns easily to Desarae's protestations, "And not entirely because I just did," she adds, twisting the meaning toward the comedic while still professing healthy respect for the woman who has come through so much. "Oh, tremendous— and, yes, I think the entire exhibition is apt to provoke some interesting discussions. We have… quite a panel lined up. And the actual answers will never be posted, so unless the winner guesses them all correctly and spreads word… the conversation will simply have to continue," she grins slyly, betraying a glimpse at the thought process behind the creation of the exhibition. "If you at all think you may succeed where I have overreached— and have further goodwill toward my project to offer further aid— I did ask the Duchesse herself for a stocking, but she deemed it inappropriate. If you might have inroads with, perhaps, one of her daughters? I would ask, myself, but would not want the Duchesse to find my persistance at her innermost chambers… distressing."

"I am of the opinion, madame," Desarae asserts, "that it will be the topic of conversation at many a gathering for months, if not years." The devilry that's been long-buried within her, surfaces at mention of her aunt, and her nose crinkles with delight. "I will be the very model of discretion," she promises. "I am closer in particular with one of my cousins than any of the others," she decides, "and will approach her for one of hers. She'll be thrilled to be asked." She dismisses her aunt's concerns as easily as a sailor dismisses his responsibilities when approaching the door of a whorehouse, and covers Cochonnet's uppermost hand with her other. "The ball. When is it? And when do you require our stockings by…"

Cochonnet can't help but be gratified by the flattery that her comedy might be so far-reaching in scope— and be lured to believe it, as well. "We will see," she puts a button on that one, not about to disagree and sound diffident, nor agree and sound arrogant. "Bless you and all of your discretion, Lady Desarae," she grins. "The fete is on Saturday. The stockings best delivered that morning, fresh from a few days' good wear, at least. You may wish, instead, to begin wearing one today and be able to… change in and out of it, as you might need." Because she certainly doesn't expect that Desarae or any of the Duchesse's children to go around in dirtied hose for three days straight without being able to wear fresh when in company. Cochonnet stands, and, lowering herself into another deep curtsey, "Your aid in this event will be remembered, my Lady Desarae. If ever I or House Glycine may return favor…" and she leaves it at that.

Solar - Ducal Palace

Spacious enough to provide a meeting place of more familiar atmosphere to the residents of the Ducal Palace, the solar is of rectangular shape and generously lit during the day through a number of arched windows in the south wall. The opposite side is governed by a huge stone hearth, a fire crackling there during colder weather conditions. Above the hearth hangs a shield with the coat of arms of House Mereliot, flanked by a pair of exquisitely woven tapestries depicting naval scenes of ships on the sea, one in calm and tranquil weather conditions, the other one in a storm with heavy rain.

All furniture is made of oak, be it the long table in the middle of the room, or the number of high backed chairs arranged about it, flat cushions of blue brocade adding to the comfort of seating. The ceiling is a sophisticated rib vault, constructed of wood, the ribs painted in yellow. Depictions of a variety of sea animals have been added onto the light blue ceiling as well by an unknown artist. Several kinds of mediterranean fish adorn the spaces in between ribs, such as combers, groupers and flounders but also starfish and octopusses.

A door leads out onto a rooftop garden, and an archway opens into the upper hallway.

Ortolette rests, settled by a window in a lush chair meant for our average manner of being seated, but into which the diminutive malade has tucked up her legs and is resting draped over the opposite arm, gazing out the window at the stars above and the flickers of lamplight echoing them from the city below. A work of embroidery rests on the table at her side, half-complete, and she may have been working on it in the waning light of dusk until she lent her eyes instead to the art of watching the stars brighten fistfuls at a time against the darkling sky. Some sollicitous handmaiden had come by to light the lamp by her, but she had dismissed the maiden from her task, preferring not to have the light so close at hand dim her eye against the night sky's beauties. The handmaiden is presently going about the rest of the solar to light its lamps, at least, lest she seem insufficiently diligent to her duty.

<FS3> Ortolette rolls Needlework: Good Success. (2 3 6 6 3 7 2 8 2 8 2 6)

The days are never long enough for Desarae, and every hour of every day since she's returned from Elua has been carefully allotted to the most pressing of her needs. She's stripping ivory leather gloves from her hands as she enters the solar this evening, releasing the mother-of-pearl buttons from their keeper loops that keep them snugly fastened at her wrists. Ortolette is an easy subject to spot, framed as she is by the expanse of the window behind her, and whether Desarae had intended on hunting her cousin down this evening, or whether she'd not, her feet turn gleefully in her direction. "Cousin," her greeting is called, before she's halfway to her quarry. Eyes glitter with mirth, and a smile curves her lips as she tosses her gloves to the table where they land, either by design or accident, atop Ortolette's embroidery. She throws herself into a nearby chair and her skirts billow about her. "How are you? Stargazing, I see. Did you ever meet my cassiline Nicolas? I can't recall if you did or not. The stories he told me of the stars."

Ortolette's eyelids had just been in jeopardy of shutting when Desarae's voice is cause for a sudden rousing of breath, a pressure applied via elbow to the chair arm, and a frail frame no less rising from repose and turning to greet Desarae with a smile. "Dear coz," she answers, opening up her arms to invite Des in for an embrace before she repairs to her own seat, if she will. She must be feeling well— even if she has a hint of lethargy about her, it is surely only due to the hour. Her form wiggles slowly but with decision, turning to better face Desarae in her seat, with her back agains the arm her chest had momently ago been pressing, and she flicks her little feet over the other arm, resting the undersides of her knees on the opposite arm. She moves like a slightly confused otter, but it's a vast improvement to the worst of her days, in which just turning her head is an ordeal. "I'm well, and so happy to see you. I'm not certain that I have; does he make a study of them? On a clear night like this, they're certainly worth wondering over. Maybe we could go out onto the rooftop," she suggests.

"I am no longer Nicolas' ward," Desarae says with a hint of a sigh. "He was recalled to the abbey by the Prefect, and I have another instead." She turns her head to glance to where her cassiline stands a short distance away, drawing Ortolette's attention towards a man of perhaps thirty years or so. "He is nice enough," she acedes with a drop in her voice as her eyes flick back to her cousin. "But," and again there's that exhale of her breath that sounds like a sigh, "he is not Nicolas." She kicks her feet free of her slippers, and mirrors Ortolette's position in her chair. She's wearing ivory stockings tonight, a gleam of golden embroidery at the ankle where he feet dangle beneath the hems of her skirts. "We could, I suppose," she says of the roof, "but not for a minute. It's so lovely and quiet in here tonight, and I'm quite in need of that. Especially," and here she pauses, fingers playing with a ribbon on the front of her bodice as she tilts her head to the side to look directly at her cousin, "with what I have to tell you!"

Ortolette lowers her eyes in a moment of deferent respect for Desarae's guardian— her own, Girard, is outside in the hallway, having cleared the Solar and the Garden beforehand and given Ortolette her space, as she's requested, before taking up his post at the only entrance. "I'm sure he's a very good fellow," she speaks low, for Desarae, and, though he might hear her, as well, it wasn't meant by way of flattery— or, at least, it was posed to inspire that notion. When Desarae defers their trip outside, Ortolette doesn't complain. It's comfortable here, and the arm of the chair feels nice against her back, which she's arcing just faintly with the aid of the roundel. And, to make things even better, Desarae has news for her "Oh! Is there gossip?" she grins. "Tell, tell."

And with a grin to match Ortolette's, tell, Desarae does. "The Glycine Piglet is holding one of her famous balls a few days from now. Had you heard?" She throws out the question, but it's more of a rhetorical one since Ortolette being Ortolette may well have known before Desarae did herself. She continues on, penduluming her ivory-stockinged feet where they dangle over the arm of the chair. "Imagine my surprise when the Piglet requested to speak with me! And why did she wish to speak with me? You will never guess!" Her nose crinkles as she throws out her bait, the ribbon she toys with flicked to one side as she laces her fingers beneath her bust. "The theme of the ball is the worship of the foot in all its forms, and she wished to enquire whether I might help her with one of her games. Naturally," she arches a brow, and grins once again, "I agreed."

<FS3> Ortolette rolls Rumors: Good Success. (5 6 4 5 3 4 8 2 8 1 6)

Ortolette had heard, of course; she hears most things, one way or another, either from her lady's maids, whom some less forgiving people might better term spies, or from her wide network of correspondence. "Oh, you, too? I've heard she's been a busy piglet indeed, holding meetings with some very interesting people," her hazel eyes gleam with a sort of sedate devilry as she gains insight onto what these visits may even have been about. Desarae's verbal fake hits its mark; 'naturally,' Ortolette assumed, her coz would never agree to something no doubt inordinately obscene, if the Piglet's filthy reputation is to be trusted, so when Desarae reveals that she had agreed to participate, both of Ortolette's hands fly to her mouth to cover an audible gasp. "Desarae— you didn't!" she squeaks, but when her hands drop again, they reveal a big grin. "Oh, goodness. What will you be doing in this… game?"

Desarae's eyes lid heavily, lashes lying dark upon her cheeks as she veils her mirth from inspection. "Oh, I won't be doing anything," she says slyly. "But my stocking will!" And that's about as much as she's able to manage insofar as keeping a lid on her amusement goes, laughter ripples about her as she points her foot and raises her left leg to a forty-five degree angle so her skirts slide to her knee and reveal a scandalous amount of that stockinged leg. "She wanted a stocking from me, worn for a number of days. The game is for the guests at the ball to attempt to determine the identity of each stocking's owner. Apparently," and here she turns onto her side, one elbow pressing to the cushion beneath her so she can look her cousin full in the face, "she approached your mother for one!"

Ortolette is just rosying up, more from amusement than from the scandal of it all, but— truly, now!— imagine a ballroom full of nobility pawing at ones hosiery! Oh, yes, imagine it. Good heavens. But that pink glow fades in a pallid blanch when Desarae drops that final piece of the puzzle— "She did'n— She certainly would never have" she blurts, this encounter not exactly having been on her radar, and it's leaving her nigh apoplectic! "Mother certainly said no," she finally concludes— it's a question, but posed in the form of a certainty. "Not to say it might not be… entertaining. Is that your… donation? It's very pretty,"

"Yes it is." Desarae laughs, dropping her leg back over the arm so that, with a flick of her skirts, all's hidden from view. "And she did refuse. Elua's balls but what I would give to have been a fly on the wall for that! I wonder if she approached her in person," she giggles, "or merely sent a letter." Arms lift above her head, and she locks her fingers together so that she can push her hands into a long and languid stretch. A glance is stolen Ortolette's way. "I feel that it's very unlikely my identity will be guessed at as I've been more away from the city of late than here in it, but the knowledge that goodness knows who will be touching and handling my stocking, sniffing it even, brings a blush to my cheek! I'll be there to watch, of course, my reward for the donation being a token granted by the Piglet herself. She did wonder," she slyly adds, "whether any of my cousins might also be prevailed upon, and I thought immediately of you…"

"Had I been a fly on that wall, I would have fallen straight to the floor, forgetful of my wings," Ortolette replies somewhat loftily, and, lacking a fan with which she might move some of the heat away from her face, she reaches behind for her embroidery hoop to use to the same effect, the needle tucked under-over-under and held flat against the taut fabric which bears the nascent form of a siren on an ocean crag. "It makes me blush on your behalf, coz," she agrees, "And you'll be there to watch these good Ladies and Lords touch your stockings? Don't you fear you will give yourself away?" she speaks on, halted in her conversational give and take by the new twist in affairs. "Oh, Desarae! I couldn't— could I?" she blinks, intrigued by the prospect, but a little timid, "What do you think? Mother wouldn't be upset, would she?"

Desarae bites her lip when Ortolette retrieves her embroidery. To be sure, the stitchwork is fine, the design ambitious, but it's embroidery. "Is your enjoyment for threadwork genuine?" she asks. "Or do you do it because you have to. I detest it myself, and always have. There always seemed better things to do." She brings her hands back down and folds them over her chest as a fake shudder is given. "Give myself away? Oh no. Definitely no. Have you forgotten where I was raised?" A grin to that. "But as to your mother and whether she'll be upset, only you can answer that. I think if it were me, I'd rather have that frisson of excitement and the audacity of the deed! The chances of your identity being discovered are, I would think, quite low."

Ortolette does have to mull over the stocking question, but now Desarae has given her refuge into an entire new category of conversation, if, quite possibly, no less a sensitive one. Desarae's Cassiline is still in attendance, and a subtle flick of her eyes toward him delares, quietly, that she must choose her words, yet, with some conscience. "Embroidery has always been a useful pass-time for me," she begins. "When I am unwell, it occupies my bedridden hours and keeps my mind from going idle. And even when I'm well, it keeps my hands busy… which seems somehow to focus my considerations. And I'm… good at it, which is a credit to me and to my mother, when my skill in such a virtuous art is to be praised. Would I have it be my whole life? No. But it is a benefit, and a balm, in certain ways," she confines her answer to that much, just now.

<FS3> Desarae rolls Empathy: Great Success. (6 7 3 7 3 7 8)

A moue purses Desarae's lips, and her brows knit on her forehead. "I sincerely hope that Leonard won't expect me to embroider our monogram on his 'kerchiefs," she frowns. "I know it'd be a romantic thing to do, but I'd die if my evenings were occupied by such things. That's what maids are for." It's a grumble, but only a light one, because she does have empathy for her cousin and the restrictions of the life she leads. Which why, perhaps, she tempers her harsher words with softer ones of praise. "Your work is exquisite in a way that mine could never be. I don't have your talent for it." A breath as she swings her legs to the floor and hunts with her feet for her slippers. "Promise me," she drops to a murmur, "that you will at least give consideration to that which we spoke of? It can be our secret, yours and mine, to be laughed over when we're old and grey."

It's fair enough, in Ortolette's point of view, for Desarae to claim that death yawns before her at the prospect of a life like hers. After all, most of her life has been one long instance of death yawning before her— so why shouldn't it be so to anyone else? "You could become talented in just about anything, if your life gives you enough time for it. But you have bigger things waiting for you, coz," she smiles a pale smile, imagining Desarae in her old and grey years— herself, not quite so much. "I'll promise you more than that— the stocking the piglet craves, send one of your girls to take it away when it is wanted."

The smile that lights Desarae's face is something to behold. "I knew you'd be up for some mischief!" she declares, and her feet now safely housed in her slippers, she pads across the floor to Ortolette's chair and extends a hand her way. "Let's go up to the gardens for a while then if you still wish to. That is, before it grows cold and Girard points out the folly of it. I have instructions to impart on the stocking, and with only a few days left 'til the ball, I'd better tell you them quickly." It'll be merely twenty minutes or so that they'll spend in each other's company on the roof, and Girard will obligingly carry the Duchesse's daughter up the stairs and back down before the two cousins part, plans neatly in place.

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