(1308-04-23) A Safe Harbor
Summary: A young d'Angeline halfblood arrives in Marsilikos and is taken in by Madame Delilah. A deal is made, and one Cosette becomes Lavernia, the new addition to l'Amour Méchant.
RL Date: 21/08/2018 (OOC date)
Related: None
lavernia delilah 

April 23rd, 1308 — l’Amour Méchant — Port of Marsilikos

Luck. Sometimes you just need a bit of luck, to run into the right person. It can happen. Even when you are recently arrived in a city - a foreign city. Each city would be foreign to this young woman of foreign but also d’Angeline looks, when all she had ever known was Elua. Elua and Mont Nuit.

It had been dusk when she decided to sneak off the ship in the harbor. It had only been a matter of time till she had been approached by two dock workers, only a few feet away from the door to l'Amour Mechant.

You need luck sometimes. And Cosette was lucky that night, that Delilah had stepped out of the brothel at that very moment, grasped the situation and intervened.

Her hand is taken and she is gently pulled inside - and her dark eyes go wide as she takes in the colorful interior, so different from anything she has seen before. The young woman is of dusky skin and definitely a beauty. Even if the dress she wears is plain, a dark green gown of a kitchen maid, and her dark hair is worn in a braid.

"What are you doing here, lil flower? All by yourself at this hour?" The soft voice of a young woman whispers when the door of the brothel closes. "Did clouds overshadow your mind and you decide to seek for an adventure?" Her large wide eyes framed by the black eyeliner stare up at the other foreign beauty.

Delilah's attire exudes an innocent warmth that is gentle, feminine and easy to love. Her dress is made up of three garments: a sheer, floaty underdress made of a thin layer of linen, a thicker linen and lace underskirt with hundreds of tiny pleats for volume, and an overskirt with a structured corset underneath to create an enviable slim silhouette. The fabrics have a natural linen color. Though, lace obviously used to have a white hue which is already mildly grayed out, suggesting that the dress has been worn many times. The flowing, puffy sleeves along with the pleated nature of the rest of the dress make Delilah appear a bit more curvy.

The stranger tucks Cosette by the hand to move deeper into the room. There are a couple of customers seated on the comfortable cushions. One of those customers is a middle-aged sailor who holds a slim but quite tall beauty on his lap. Her cleavage is bravely wide and the man seems to be twirling her long black hair around his finger. She giggles and her laugh is followed by the man's low chuckle. Another customer of similar age enjoys the company of a young man who seems to wear quite loose shirt and his older companion obviously enjoys the view. A man behind the bar is a true foreigner judging from his dark skin, black beard and a pile of hair curled up on his head. He is entertaining a couple of dizzy men and women.

Delilah gently pushes Cosette toward an empty table that she would take a seat. "Wait here." She simply states and walks toward the bar. The true beauty of her underskirt comes from the movement since it elegantly flows as she walk away, and attracts attention of the men, especially sailors. Her warm brown skin contrasts well with the shades of her attire. The young Madame holds her thick large curls gathered up into a large bun but then she has left some of those locks flow down freely like a waterfall to her shoulders and beyond.

She comes back after exchanging few words with the barman. She brings a goblet of warm wine, a slice of bread and ham. She sets it in front of Cosette. "Who brought you here? You are obviously not from around?" She asks leaning her one arm to her side, scanning the younger woman.

Cosette glances towards the man with the whore in his lap, and her features soften into a vague smile when she hears their laughter. It doesn't seem to offend her, this rather overt display of slowly evolving intimacy, but yet, it may be different from what she is used to. There is a flicker in her gaze as she takes a seat and studies the patrons that are to be found here, sailors, dock workers, commoners. One arm comes up, hand touching against her shoulder as if to shield her from the gazes she obviously will attract.

Her attention sweeps back to Delilah, the young woman that appears to be much shorter than she is. A cautious smile flashes in Cosette’s features, but in the end gratitude will prevail. “I came with a ship,” she replies, in flawless d’Angeline. So flawless it actually sounds slightly misplaced in these surroundings. And lowering her gaze to the offered bread and ham, she adds, “From Elua.” And there she accepts the food and begins to eat, with a haste that suggests she may not have had many meals of late. Pausing only to take a good sip of the warm wine from the goblet, she will remain silent for a while.

Delilah slides to take a seat beside the newcomer. She is quiet for a few long moments, simply watching how a younger woman is eating, enjoying wine. Madame seems to be considering something. Her gaze thoughtful. Her fingers slowly tap on the edge of the table. A louder laughter from the bar awakens her from the deep thought. She smiles. “Have you arrived with a lady or a lord? It’s not that common to meet someone all by themselves from the capital. Have you been looking for a place to stay? I am sure your lord or your lady would enjoy a more fancy quarter. Maybe try a noble district?” She suggests. “I am Madame Delilah and this is l’Amour Méchant. My home. My business. I would recommend to take my word by granted - you are too frail to wander around alone. If you are lost, I can ask Marcel or Hugh to escort you back to your retinue.”

“I have not,” Cosette replies with a light shake of her head to Delilah’s question, dark eyes lifting to meet the Madame’s gaze. “I am on my own. There is no lord. No lady.” Perhaps she would have been more cautious, under other circumstances, but the warm wine causes her senses to blur, and it loosens her tongue. “I don’t know where to go.” Her eyes find Delilah’s, holding them for a moment, before she goes back to eating, finishing up the meal. And the goblet. “You are kind, Madame. I shan’t bother you for longer than… absolutely needed. Thank you for offering your help, but… I should be going. I need to find a place to stay…”

Delilah can not hold her laugh. Explosion of her amusement draws attention of both staff and clientele. She has to stop herself by bringing hands to her lips and covering it up. When the sound is muffled, she whispers, “You don’t know where to go but yet you are ready to leave and explore the town. I just told you that you are not safe even if we have guards around. When a man is hungry, a man is hungry and nobody can stop them from nibbling on a petite gazelle.” She sighs. Humorous expression fades from her features as fast as it appeared.

“Tell my why did you come to Marsilikos and are you planning to stay here? I enjoy honesty, lil flower. Be honest and I may offer you a room,” she points toward the door lined up upstairs, “as well as a job.”

Her gaze goes blank for a moment, when Cosette realizes certain truths in what Delilah tells her. “I just… It would feel wrong to…” Words trail off. Any further attempts to explain, what modesty dictates die on her lips. When the young woman meets Delilah’s gaze, and sees that look there, the ghost of a smile fades at once. “I couldn’t stay in Elua,” she finally admits. Inhaling deeply through her nose, she lowers her gaze. “I was trained in Naamah’s arts. But they no longer allowed me to serve at the front of the salon. A lord who told me he would pay off my marque… no longer is interested to do so. That’s why I had to leave. I was not born to do lowly chores in the kitchens.” She swallows, and gives Delilah a long considering look. “My name is Cosette. Cosette nó Valerian.” She bites her lip. “I came to Marsilikos to hide from those that would hunt me down and bring me back to Mont Nuit. I am still in debt to the salon. But any life I find here is better than what they doomed me to, at home.” A slow blink, and her expressions warms into an imploring look. “Please, Madame Delilah. I want the room you offer. I can work.” Her gaze flicks towards the whore that squirms giggling upon the sailor’s lap, not too far away. “I have received the best training there is, in providing pleasure and entertainment. I can dance for your guests. I can pleasure them. Just… please… offer me your protection.”

That is as honest as she can get, and Cosette leans back in her seat, astonished, at how effortlessly the words spilled from her lips, her confessions that could very much become her doom.

Delilah listens attentively of the story of a young and lost former courtesan. She doesn’t say anything after that blunt honesty which follows her questions. Her gaze briefly wanders to the man at the bar and then back to Cosette. “Lavernia,” Madame takes a small pause. “May I call you Lavernia?” A subtle smile curls her lips up. “It’s a pleasure to know that you are interested working at the l’Amour Méchant. I must admit that I am not of Terre d’Ange. I do not carry your faith at my heart. I never understood the reasons behind those contracts they make one sign at the Night Court. We simply allow one to live and work at this establishment as long as they desire. You can stand up and leave when it pleases you. The main rule we have here is that nothing happens at l’Amour Méchant without my knowledge. You report to me. If anything suspicious is going on, you tell me. If you think that someone speaks dangerous words, you inform me. Is that clear?” A pause is made here as well. To let the information sink in.

“There is another small requirement. What happens in l’Amour Méchant stays in l’Amour Méchant. We hold the secrecy of some of our customers quite dear. You do not hear, you do not see, you do not discuss what is unrelated to your daily task of entertainment unless I ask.” Her smile broadens and she leans a tad closer studying the woman’s eyes intently. “Also, you do not lie to me. Those who lie end up on the street and terrible things happen to frail gazelles on the streets…”

“Lavernia.”, Cosette repeats the name with a slow blink. A smile curves her lips and she nods. “Yes. Lavernia I shall be.” That smile dims, with a hint of deep regret shimmering through. “I have served Naamah. I have faith in Her still. But. I am too flawed now, Madame. I would only ask…” Again she lets her gaze sweep over the main room, and the barely clad women there. “That I’d be allowed to wear a dress when I am entertaining here. My lower back should be covered, or anyone would be able to see. In the chamber…” Her shoulders lift in a light shrug. “Lighting will be more dimmed. And I doubt anyone of your usual guests would be able to recognize an unfinished marque of Mont Nuit.” Holding Delilah’s gaze, Lavernia tilts her head, before her dark eyes glance down at the table. A nod. “I understand. And I promise to stick to your rules.”

Delilah leans in and tries to cup the young woman’s cheek into her palm, “You are not flawed. Flawed are those who cast someone aside because of a small scratch. I know how the Night Court works and many things seem to be unfair there. You are considered to be closer to angels and yet you are nothing more but slaves. However, life is unfair and we have to learn to cope with it if we want to survive.” A pause. “I was similar, like you when I first came to Marsilikos. I knew nobody but I was not even a servant of Naamah. I was nobody and look at me now!” She smiles. “We are not flawed as long as we believe that we aren’t, and others have no rights to decide for us. You have to learn to stand for yourself. Proudly. I will be your harbor, Lavernia, and you will learn how to sail on your own in order not to sink in the open.”

Delilah nods at Cosette’s request. “You can wear your dress, wear whatever you want. You know better than anyone else how to attract attention of our customers that they would desire to come back. Your room will be third door to the right, second floor. It will be quite dusty. We clean around ourselves.”

“You haven’t seen my scars yet,” Lavernia murmurs, her gaze flickering before one corner of her mouth curves in a light upwards twitch. “Buth truth be told, they are what I am less worried about at the moment.” She moves to stand, slowly, carefully, as her knees might be a bit wobbly from enjoying wine she may not have had in awhile. “This dress though…” She rolls her eyes a little, “is not the right sort of dress suitable for l’Amour Méchant. I would need to borrow a dress of one of the other girls, until I can afford one of my own. That is,” she lifts a brow, “if I will be allowed to keep some of the money I earn?” When Delilah tells her the location of the room that is to be hers for the time coming, Lavernia nods, a nod that goes along with a flutter of eyelashes and a dutiful smile. “I can keep my room tidy, Madame. Cleaning up rooms and work in our kitchens have been my duties in the last months at the salon.”

Delilah moves to her feet. She withdraws five silver coins and extends them to Lavernia, “For a new proper dress and some additional needs of yours. A salary in advance! You can take 40% of what you earn for yourself. The rest goes to our common account to keep this place from crumbling down!” The Madame smiles. “You will not have to work at the kitchen. We have someone who does it. I am pretty sure you will enjoy your time here. Keep good relationship with all staff. But I would recommend to become close friends with Marcel,” she points at the man behind the bar. “Also Milicent,” her hand gestures to the woman who is settled on a lap of an older sailor. “And of course with our Hugh,” Delilah gestures toward the young man whose bared chest attracts attention of another sailor. “They help me run things. If you will earn their and my trust, you might secure yourself quite a steady future.” She then gestures toward the stairs, “Off you go now. You need to sleep, wash yourself and tomorrow I may show you around the town.”

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