(1310-09-05) Cruelty is a Part of Life.
Summary: A Kusheline walks into a bakery with a commoner and a Valerian novice, conversations ensue, cakes are overturned, lessons are left unspoken.
RL Date: 2018-09-05
Related: None
ashton audrialla bijoux 

Bakery - Market Promenade

L'Agnacites hold with the truism the expression of art through food is a holy calling, and such a shrine pays homage to the creative spark. Gourmands worship at a marble altar groaning under a sinful array of glistening pastries and thin cakes. Offerings stacked in neat rows behind glass gleam bright as a raj's jewels: ripe cranberries and pomegranate seeds under clear glaze, clouds of pearly cream, ruby strawberries and pale jade grapes. Pale gold custard tarts and honey-drenched buns sit next to delicate finger-cakes dusted in cocoa and curls of shaved chocolate. Fruits of the season laboriously contrived into visual illusions transform humble apples into ladies' purses with aid of crepes, or create the famed dome of Marsilikos from apricots and oranges.

Senses besieged from every direction find no relief. Colourful cream-filled macarons whet the visual appetite as the scent of fresh-baked breads stir out from the ovens from the pre-dawn hours until mid-afternoon. Seating is sparse, merely a few wooden benches to the front. The long, narrow shop is dominated by display cases and the odd bottle of fruit wine and sherry mounted upon a shelf for an afternoon aperitif. Plain white walls graced by sconces overflowing in seasonal flowers hardly detract from the baked goods for sale, and the narrow shopfront windows allow light to pour in.

When looking out of the windows, you see: It is a summer morning. The weather is warm and fair.

Ashton walks in with a distant, emotionless stare drifting past the patrons of the bakery. His dark clothing contrasting with the beautiful summer morning outside as his boots have the sort of leathery click-thud of a very methodical horse whip with every step. His eyes find Bijoux first, before his face turns towards her. His watery blue eyes slowly drift into a blink and then flutter once. He very faintly turns his chin to the side, his torso bending like a blackjack caught in slow motion… a bow… then his blue gaze falls on Audrialla. There's something shivering in his face, as if something lived there, or his muscles wanted to twitch but he would not let them. "Is sanguine often your color of choice?" Seemingly his greeting an introduction.

The golden haired baker, arranging a tray of macaroons into pleasingly arrays of colored designs, pauses at the sudden and odd question. She pauses mid stack, straightens, and blinks innocently a few times. "Beg your pardon… my lord," she hazards based on his manners and fine clothes. "Was that to me? Or her?" As both ladies seem to have chosen the color for their garb.

Bijoux is standing near the counter eyeing the treats. She's carrying a large basket, though it looks nearly empty as yet. There's a quietness to her visage and the sound of a voice in the room seemingly startles and she turns toward Ashton. She is also unsure of who the words are addressed to, and her brow furrows slightly. There is a bodyguard near the door, and his eyes move to Ashton as well, and the dour looking woman standing just behind Bijoux lifts her eyes to the man who speaks as well. Her eyes then move to Audrialla at her spoken words and she smiles shyly at the woman before echoing her sentiment. "I'm also unsure of who you're addressing, Sir."

Ashton flicks his ocean blue gaze over the baker and says, as life seems to enter back into him, "To you, my darling. I'm afraid we've never met and I have lived in this city many months." Then a breath escapes him ever so slowly as he studies Bijoux's basket but not the woman though he smiles faintly as he looks the guard in the eye, stares the guard in the eye as he speaks… again rather vague on just whom he is speaking to, "Perhaps both, though. Why wear such a cruel color?"

Audrialla replies, "It suits me and my coloration," she replies, bobbing a curtesy. "Though it often goes a pink with all the flour on it." She pats her skirts and sends a small puff flying into the air. "I'm Audrialla Malet, recently promoted to head pastry chef and dessertiere. I spent a lot of time in the back bakeries til now, my lord, which is why I'm a stranger to you."

Bijoux seems to consider his question for a moment as she turns back to the baked goodies, her finger extending to tick them off as through she's planning her oder ahead of time. The guard returns the man's gaze, but doesn't move from his perch, and the chaperone that accompanies Bijoux continues to stare at the man who questions the two women. Bijoux's voice is quiet as she speaks, though it can be heard clearly even though she doesn't turn around. "It's pretty, simply enough." Then she does glance over her shoulder toward Ashton and flashes a brief smile in his direction before adding, "Cruelty is part of life. It can't be ignored or wished away, it is. Just as this color is." Then she repeats in a more playful tone after turning back to the pastry display, "And it's pretty."

Ashton smiles and it is a bit like dawn in winter. Sharp, beautiful features transitioning into a suddenly meaningful expression of appreciation for Audrialla, "I see…. Audrialla Malet… I am Lord Ashton de Morhban. It is a pleasure. I am sure of it. Have you a specialty?" His tongue grazes the back of his eye tooth as his gaze travels over Audrialla and then the beacon of his cold smile, for though it could show a thousand saints' worth of kindness, they would all be surely entombed in ice, to Bijoux. "Yes… there is something… very pretty, Bijoux no Valerian…" Had she said her name to him? "…about something truly sanguine… a peacefulness in the blood. And cruelty… darling…" He turns and looks at the guard again, still silent, that soft breath held, then the chaperone, "…cruelty is but one kind of love."

Audrialla runs her hands over her dress with a slightly nervous gesture. "Ah, yes, your lordship. Cakes. I make custom cakes for fetes and birthdays. Or surprise gifts for lovers," she adds with a gentle smile and a look to the novice. "I made the cakes for the last two debuts at the Salons."

Bijoux's eyes widen slightly as she glances over her shoulder toward the nobleman who seems to already know her name. Her eyes sweep over him more carefully this time and her lips turn into a smile as she nods. "A pleasure to meet you, My Lord." Then her eyes turn to Audrialla and she says, loud enough for Ashton to hear as well, "I shall have to remember you when we start to make arrangements for my debut. It seems to far away, yet it's sneaking up on us quickly. Next month, in fact." She glances toward Ashton and says, "I shall hope to see you there, as well, if it pleases you."

Ashton immediately, suddenly looks to Audrialla when he starts to speak, "Ah… I did not make it to those debuts but I am certain of the quality of your cakes as I am certain the seasons will change. That the crisp death of summer will come and be harvested. That the throes of the raptures of such fields will surely fall into your hands to pass by the teeth and throats of so many… happy… people. It is an honor, then, the work that you do…. tell me, do you have such a surprise and secret gift for lovers right now? I feel that would be the epitome of your craft." His forefinger and thumb brush rhythmically against one another on his right hand, the skin a healthy moistness, though remarkably pale as if he and the sun were rarely friendly towards one another. "And your debut, cruel and crimson beloved… when is that?" He asks Bijoux without really waiting for the conversation to continue, as if just starting a new out of the blue. When the novice speaks his eyes shut in a slow, tense manner, the blue irises rolling up a bit before he opens his eyes, facing Bijoux, the piercing blue gaze already settled on her before the lids and long black lashes expose them. He makes no comment on her words, no reaction to her body language or anything about her except that she might be the answer he is looking for. As for her guard and chaperone, they may as well be shades invisibly haunting the bakery as far as the Kusheline lord seems to pay them heed. His blue gaze does seem to be searching in Bijoux, not boring into her but swiftly and neatly unthreading her soul. Reading her. The room itself seems chilled now, as if it were suddenly noticeable that it had dropped several degrees despite the warmth just a few feet away…. held outside the bakery.

"If I told, my lord," Audrialla says quietly, "it ruins the mystery." His presence and manner has her a touch on edge, a flutter to her green eyes and a hand clutching subconsciously at her faded crimson skirts. She falls silent a beat, letting the debutant to be share her happy occasion. "Simply give the theme, mademoiselle, and I'll craft something worthy of your beauty and the occasion."

Bijoux's smile brightens as she says, "Theme.. oh my… I haven't even considered themes yet." She turns not from the bakery tray toward the nobleman, lowering her gaze slightly as she tucks both hands through the handle of the large empty basket, "I turn 16 on the 15th of October. We haven't set a date for the debut yet, though I suspect it shall be very close to that date if I can get on the ball for preparations. Do you have any ideas, or suggestions? As far as the theme for out little fete?" She glances to Aurellia, "Or you? It seems you have your fingertip on the very pulse of style for these sorts of engagements. I'm sure you have more ideas than I ever could."

Ashton works his jaws a moment as a breath escapes his nostrils swiftly, without looking at Audrialla he states, "Yet." One word. Sharp. Resonating. Not a raised voice but somehow more piercing, nothing that can be nailed down as harsh or mean… just…. piercing. Like an icicle falling from a roof, plummeting and then landing softly in the snow, piercing through the soft of it with its solid and narrowed self. "I would ruin the mystery." This time his words are kinder, softer, colder… his eyes boring into Audrialla as idly as the sun sinks into the sea. Some, flicker of that initial twitch returns in his features, as if he were either very bad at keeping his composure… or exceptionally skilled at keeping a great deal held back. There is a creak of leather as his left hand slowly closes into a fist in its glove. He inhales slowly, his watery gaze flicking over the facial features of the baker commoner, "Please." It is not the sort of please that accompanies a request. He glances at Bijoux for a moment and states simply, without a smile, "Did you not say cruelty was unavoidable? Perhaps that, then."

The commoner looks him in the eyes only briefly before they dart downward towards her displays. Her lovely edible displays of pasteries and fruits. "My fee included discretion, my lord," she says timidly, starting to wring her hands. "I would be betraying my client's trust if I told."

Ashton works his jaws faintly, a small frown forming as he looks down at the commoner, he raises his gloved left hand and opens it before her, in the palm of the leather glove is more than twice what she would likely ever charge for such a surprise. "For your /discretion/."

Light blue eyes survey the scene, and Bijoux's own attempt at discretion involves turning back to the case to explore the findings again and pretending like what is happening nearby isn't indeed happening at all. She turns her head and speaks very quietly to the chaperone, "I think the honey soaked pastry rolls. They look delicious, don't they?"

Audrialla is certainly cowed by the intimidation, if not lured by the stacks of coin presented before her. "Um…. my lord, ah, what would you know, then?" She seems to shrink in on herself, eyes glancing everywhere but his sharp features.

Ashton seems to soften even as he sharpens, moving closer to Audrialla like some mix of a mother snake towards either its prey or its babe. "Darling baker… I only wish to see one, to hold it in my hand, to witness the utmost of your art viscerally. I will give it right back to you, of course."

Bijoux is likely not oblivious to what's going on behind her, but she's pretending she is. In fact, she's listening quite carefully to it while attempting to appear that she isn't.

Audrialla lets out a sigh of relief, tension flooding out of her. She closes his fingers around the first full of coins and starts to blush. "My lord, forgive me. I mistook you. I don't have any at the moment, they're all delivered. I could describe them to you if you wished?" She flashes a look to Bijoux and offers a weak apology of a smile.

Ashton deftly turns his gloved hand in Audrialla's to let gravity transfer the coins, "I feel the fault of miscommunication falls squarely upon me, Aduralla Malet… might you instead allow me to have whatever you have on hand that you feel /best/ represents your skills, hopes, dreams, virtues and vices wrapped into the art you so tenderly create in this hollowed ground?"

Ashton then says, "Or rather, to inspect and witness, to smell the scent and feel the warmth of it."

<FS3> Audrialla rolls Baking: Great Success. (3 8 7 1 1 7 1 7 6 2)

Audrialla brightens at this and goes into the back room, excusing herself a minute. Leaving the pair alone.

Ashton looks to the young novice, "Have you ever thought how odd it is that the closest we d'Angelines ever get to raping one another is on the night of a debut?"

As the tension in the bakery subsides Bijoux's shoulders visibly relax. The bodyguard seems to relax slightly too. Bijoux hazards a quick glance at the nobleman as he speaks to her, and at his words her cheeks begin to flush pink. She murmurs quietly, "I suppose it depends on the… circumstances, but I have never known an adept that claims to have been raped on the night of her debut. We go into the service of Naamah willingly, my lord. We choose it."

Ashton studies Bijoux and states with an idle wave of his right hand, "Of course… though you do not choose who will take you, have you. Yet other times in service to Namaah you do. Perhaps you do not find that odd… I have never heard of a positive debut night. One shared in the sanguine embrace of Namaah… almost always it is some rich brute taking what he bought." He then glances over the chaperone as he continues speaking, "I have thought that perhaps they do this to you on purpose… so that every assignation after you may look back and say… 'at least it is not as it was on the night of my debut when a stranger bought my flower to defile, someone I had no connection with and would not have chosen but who entered into contract by coin alone'…"

Audrialla returns on this with a beautiful three tiered cake- a silvery sheen over white, with a hint of red and blue piping in geometric shapes. It smells of vanilla with a hint of banana. "For a coming wedding of some wealthy merchants," she announced. It's quite the piece of work.

A visible shudder washes over Bijoux's countenance and when she speaks this time her voice is slightly hoarse, "I'm sure it's nothing our training hasn't prepared us for, my lord." Her head turns again and she gives him a sidelong glance, her eyes raking over him with slightly more confidence and then she smiles and says, "Perhaps it won't be a stranger, my lord. Perhaps some fortuitous circumstance may bring me in the presence of a man who becomes so enflamed with me that he can't bear another to outbid him. Perhaps my reaction to him, and speaking to him, will help him make that decision… and therefore it's not entirely out of my hands. Perhaps the majority of it lies in Naamah's hands." Then she's distracted by the pretty cake. "Oooooohhh… that smells delicious."

Ashton flicks his gaze away from the novice, eyes entrapped by the cake that Audrialla brings. His brows flit upwards a fraction, the most impressed the man has certainly looked since his arrival. He inhales deeply and walks slowly towards the baker and her masterpiece. Speaking as he does to the Novice, his footsteps creating that leathered whipping sound with every slow step. "Men like that do not have the money to win debuts, O servant of Namaah… your training has prepared you for pain, undoubtedly… for the act of love making…. for the many avenues and varieties of that exquisite art but I assure you it has not trained you for the being /had/ by someone who is ravaging you not out of love but out of a savage lust that they likely did not think they could have sated with you if you ever had the option… no, child… only after your first night might you find the poor noble or well done merchant who could afford an evening of embrace at your will… if you wish some advice, Novice, I suggest you watch." Then he has arrived at Audrialla and he bows faintly to her, his ungloved right hand going out to accept the cake, even if it largely means for it to be set on a flat surface before him though his upward turned palm seems quite steady.

The baker woman seems distracted by the discussion, a mixture of curiosity and… something unreadable on her face. She shakes herself out of it at his gesture and sets the cake atop the glass display. "If my lord wishes a slice, I could certainly redo their top tier this afternoon before it's delivered. My good madamoiselle too," she offers to Bijoux with a smile. Trying to ease the girl's nerve's.

Bijoux moves closer to examine the cake, her chaperone now shadowing her and eyeing Ashton through narrowed eyes. She leans forward, pulling her hair out of her face to inhale sharply of the scent before turning her gaze to Ashton. "If he wishes a piece I'll take one too, however I would be content with one of those cherry tarts, and an assortment of pastries to take back home with me." She's watching him as she says this and her voice lowers as she says to him curiously, "And is that why you choose not to attend debuts, My Lord? Because you simply don't have the stomach for such things?" her eyes now lower and she gives him a little dip of the head before smiling and turning back toward her chaperone to whisper something in her ear.

Ashton shakes his head quietly to the baker woman, his bare hand sliding under the glass or metal tray the cake arrived on, lifting it up from the glass display case with perfect pose and posture. His gloved hand at the small of his back as he slowly turns the cake on his fingertips as if presenting it in greater grandeur to himself and the Novice. His eyes watering faintly and an honest, incredibly small smile forming on his angelically perfect features. He lets those watery blue eyes search Audrialla's and he states soothingly, lovingly, "Truly, a work of art." Then the top of the cake shifts… the entire cake, in fact, pivots on its horizontal axis slowly and steadily. Falling needlessly from his right hand to the floor in a pluttering crash. His eyes close slowly as he steps over the cake gingerly and whispers to the commoner, "Do you understand?" It is… an accusation? "Do you?" He then asks, as if in reply to Bijoux's question, what to him may seem such a clear answer. Then the leathered clap of his boot heels are heard intermixed with the clatter of coins hitting the floor, having fallen from his gloved left hand as he delicately sucks a bit of icing from his right index finger, leaving the shop without another word. His gaze burning through the guard near the doorway in the way ice burns through flesh. The room seems to warm on his departure, perhaps purely from opening the door and letting in the summer breeze… or perhaps purely from his absence.

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