(1866-08-25) Business as Usual
Business as Usual
Summary: After arriving in Sunsreach the day before, Eduard and Lasair are both up unreasonably early, and strive to figure out their plans for the day. Despite being away from familiar surroundings, they find themselves falling back into familiar patterns.
Date: 1866-08-25
Related: Stranger Cousins and Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop
Players:
Lasair  Eduard  

Gerrell Manse
The Gerrell Manse in Sunsreach. It is decorated in the Normont fashion, presumably.
Aout 25, 1866

The first few months of Eduard Farrant's reign over the Black Hills has been exhausting, but rewarding. The touch of war is now almost completely gone from the land, homes and farms have been rebuilt and reseeded, and the people walk around with smiles as often as frowns. There is still so much to be done, however, and only so much gold in the Farrant treasury. And that is why, for the first time since taking on their respective roles, Eduard and Lasair have set out from Normont and headed to Sunsreach. In search both of good deals on equipment for the armory in the hope of rebuilding Blackstone's guard forces, as well as seeking out new and better trade deals for the limited exports that the Black Hills produces.

The journey from Normont was a relatively quick yet exhausting one, due to the use of the Faegates. Upon arriving at the Gerrell manse in Sunsreach, where they were welcomed as cousins and friends of Duke Symon, they spent the first few hours recovering from the Gate sickness and then went to bed early in order to be well rested and to get an early start on the day. At least that was the plan.

Eduard managed to get only a few hours of sleep, and so has been up for far too long as the first hints of sunrise begin to color the skies. Eduard sits on the sill of an opened window, his shirt opened and skin bearing a sheen of sweat, his eyes closed as he tries to find some coolness in this southern heat.

Lasair hates gate sickness. Utterly loathes it. But she'll tolerate it when she must, more often than not, given that she's not particularly happy riding for long distances either. The lesser of two evils! The manse was a welcome sight, as was the bed in the guest room she chose for herself - a modest affair, despite more opulent chambers being offered for her use. Likewise awake in time to see the first glimmers of dawn reaching above the horizon, vibrant hues of umber and even pink, the young priestess is freshly washed and attired in her standard robes of billowing ivory linens; a nod to her standing now that they're in the capital. Back 'home' she's perfectly comfortable in less formal choices.. then again, the airy fabric is really rather pleasant to wear in the prevailing arid heat.

Following morning prayers, given in the privacy of her chamber, she emerges into the main room in a breeze of the sweet scent of subtle perfume from the oils she uses on her well-tended hands and that of the herbal tea she bears; one small cup in each. It's one of her own careful concoctions, chamomile and holy basil sweetened liberally with honey, that she claims promotes harmony and wellbeing. It's her habit to begin the day with it and.. well, she's simply gotten used to brewing for two, now.

Padding across toward the perched Lord at the window, she wordlessly extends one of the cups toward him, sipping daintily from her own and casting her eyes thoughtfully out over the view. "..are you glad to be back here?" she inquires of him, soft-spoken, after a long moment of companionable silence, shifting her dark eyes to regard his features. Taking in his disheveled and tired appearance she purses her lips just a touch.. but manages not to berate him. Yet.

The smell is the first thing that tells Eduard he is not alone, and he smiles to himself and enjoys it for a moment before opening his eyes. How quickly he has come to associate that smell with home, and how out of place it seems in this city of unusual smells and loud noises. "I think I prefer visiting in the winter months," he says quietly, maintaining that small yet calm and pleasant smile that belies the weariness in his eyes and in the shadows under them. "Though things are much more relaxed now. Or perhaps that is just me. Last time I was here I was not sure if I was going to be punished or rewarded." He grimaces briefly at the thought of all the work that still awaits them both. "Some days I am still not sure which I received." Turning his attention to the tea with gratitude, he lets out a sigh after taking a prolonged yet careful sip. Certainly the effect of the drink seems to calm his soul, most mornings, even if it is just as likely to be the bearer as the liquid itself.

"Mmm." The agreeable sound could be either for the taste of her warm tea or Eduard. Who knows. As he speaks, the little blonde takes a perch opposite him in the corner of the sill, crossing her legs at the knee beneath the lightly draping swathes of her skirts. Returned to eyeing the view rather than the man she converses with, she affords the sight with a wan smile. "I've not been here since the Coronation of the Queen.. and even that was something of an eye-opening venture for me." It's easy to forget that, despite her assumed air of confidence in her dealings with most, Lasair really something on an ingenue when it comes to the wider world. Oh, the scandals and intrigue of court don't bother her - she brushes off such things with a polite smile and figurative sidestep. But she prefers to be at Blackstone now. It's familiar. She has her routine. Which is perhaps why she's clinging to the little things like making their tea come daybreak.

"It was the first time my father had taken me out of Falconhome." she continues, settling her tea in her lap within the cup of both palms, words quieting in reminiscence for her late parent. Though she's not one to wallow in her grief, returning her gaze to her companion again after only a brief few moments of musing. Her lips twitch to a smile in the wake of his latter comment. "Nor am I." Hah. Does she mean simply to agree with him, or imply she finds herself similarly uncertain? She won't elaborate. "..remind me to pick up some Valarian Root this afternoon when we visit the market." That meaning, at least, is crystalline. It's to help him sleep. She didn't weigh herself down in supplies for what will likely be only a short stay, but she'll easily lay her hands upon what she needs.

Eduard gives Lasair a grimace, over-exaggerating the gesture at her semi-subtle rebuke of his sleeping patterns. When he speaks, however, he quite deliberately retreats back towards the topic of her attending the coronation. "I can imagine that the city was quite full to bursting then. That certainly must have been different." He frowns in thought as he turns away to look out at the city, as if imagining the people and the colors and the pageantry of it all. "I was… in Sanctum at the time, I believe? Either that or in Couviere. I was definitely Couviere when I received your letter about it."

"Packed to the gunnels." replies the Priestess, cheerfully. She's recently, in her scant moments of leisure, been immersing herself in tales of nautical adventure and swashbuckling heroes she purchased from a Pacittan merchant and some of the phrases occasionally slip into her informal conversations. Which means Eduard bears the brunt of it. When he looks away, she studies his appearance more consideringly; an expert eye scanning him for any hint of ailment beyond simple fatigue and the lingering after-effects of traveling by gate. The tea alone ought to ease several such symptoms.. but she does have a habit of keeping a close watch over the Lord's health, whether he likes it or not. He has a tendency to forget such basic necessities as sustenance and rest, being so burdened by the weight of his new position, so it serves him right!

Still, it's fortunate his attention is elsewhere.. because she does find her gaze wandering, almost of its own accord, tracing the line of his jaw, downward toward his collarbones and the glimpse of bare skin beneath his loosed shirt..

Clearing her throat, she averts her eyes and brings her tea to her lips for another slow sip before speaking further. "It was a splendid affair. But there's nothing quite so soothing as familiar surroundings and the company of good friends. I'd take that over the glamour of a courtier's life, any day. Speaking of which.." Lasair's lips curve deeper into a smile. "..we should take time to visit with Lady Tiadora, if we are able. She has been here a while longer and may have some.. interesting insights."

Eduard's lips quirk a bit at the corners and his lips compress, a gesture that he has been displaying every time she has made such sea-faring comments. Because he finds it rather adorable but does not want to come across as patronizing or mocking. So he gives himself a moment longer of surveying the city while he controls his features carefully, thus buying Lasair time to stare at him unnoticed, and then look away. "Mmm, yes. I imagine that she has been dealing with the same issues that you did when you first visited the city, and then some. Her parents were nearly as restrictive with her as they were with Symon." Shaking his head and looking back at Lasair, he finds himself studying her while she gazes away. The way her hair hangs like woven sunlight over her impossibly white garment, her skin practically glowing as the rising sun reflects off it all.

Remembering to breathe, he forces himself to look only at her eyes when she does finally return his gaze, and schools his features as best he can, while returning to the conversation at hand. "Of course, you would know that better then I. Between the time we were children and now, I only saw her briefly while pledging my fealty to Symon a few months ago. I fear her and I are still very much strangers, despite being family."

There is a brief flex of jaw and lip, almost a grimace, as he realizes that he stumbled onto a topic he does not often speak of. Because, for better or worse, all his family might as well be strangers to him. One parent he has never met, the other dead, siblings he knows only in name, and those that remain with his surname likely covet his position.

"Were we ever children? I find I cannot quite recall." teases the blonde, with an expression of feigned resignation that dissipates entirely when she smiles at him. Blowing gently across the surface of her tea with a momentary pout of her lips, she then takes another teeny sip, savoring the odd, sweet taste. "You worry too much." That's both an understatement and the pot calling the kettle black. That takes skill. "The passage of time won't matter to her.. only your loyalty and piety. And you will wear both on your sleeves throughout our visit, because you could not hide your nature if your life depended on it. Which is a trait of honest-hearted folk and naught to be sniffed at, especially in a place so rife with the temptation of debauchery, hm?" Oh, yes. Sunsreach is the place filled with temptation. Obviously. Never mind the constant trial of being in one another's company!

Finishing off her tea, leaving only the leaves in the bottom and eyeing them curiously - Eduard has likely heard her profess her amusement for the charlatans who claim to read meaning in them, though the fancy does seem to continue to intrigue her - Lasair then sets the cup aside on the sill between them, the motion delicate and unhurried. Well, it's expected of a Priestess to be at all times graceful and calm. It's the latter she struggles with, more often than not.. and that's usually Eduard's fault. Or so it seems. Noting his pained expression, she tilts her head a touch askance, smile unwavering and her features indeed caressed in the warmth of a new sunrise. It lends facets of gold and almost white in her tresses, loose about her shoulders, and honey hues to her dark eyes. "You have the luxury now of choosing your own 'family', Ned. Some bemoan the bonds of blood, others swear by them. Others still understand that the true bonds of love and trust are the ones you forge for yourself. Give it time.. people will soon see past the name."

Continuing to struggle on focusing purely on Lasair's gaze, rather then the way the sunlight plays across her hair and figure, Eduard nevertheless seems to take comfort from her words. They are as much balm as the tea he drinks, and then sets aside next to the priestess's cup when he is done. Noting the way she gazes into her cup, he shakes his head silently in bemusement, thinking of the very odd and amusing shapes he can make out in his own.

"It may well be a luxury not to have been forced to be close with some of my family," he says, once the bemusement wears off and his mood sobers once more. "Yet, I will always have regrets over not knowing others." He shrugs the thought away, and as the movement draws his shirt across his skin he remembers his state of undress. Casually lacing up the front of his shirt, without showing any embarrassment, he looks back out at the city. "You are right, though. I have you, and somewhere out there, there are others we can come to count on and who can help us rebuild all that we need to." Which brings his mind back to the whole reason to this trip. "So, what is our plan of attack for today?" he asks, abruptly turning back to face Lasair, resolute in his determination to focus on business, at least for a moment.

Yes, there's an undeniable squaring of Lasair's slender shoulders in pride when he recognizes her thus. Ach, how sinful of her. She'll need to make confession during this trip, no doubt.. and for sins beyond that relatively harmless one, too…

Rising smoothly as Eduard sets to at his attire, the petite creature strolls toward one of their traveling trunks, set neatly against the wall for now until he decides on a more permanent spot. Deftly unstrapping buckles and hefting the lid as she speaks, she begins rummaging through the contents. "I would advise, m'Lord, that we brave the palace, first and foremost.. there to find the knowledgeable sorts to direct you toward merchants of fair mind and solid repute to begin your dealings." Nothing will be done in dusted in a day, she knows that. But the first step is all important, when it comes to forming such alliances. "I will leave you to tend those matters on your own, while I myself visit the church, for much the same purpose." Aha. She straightens in a swish of soft fabric, drawing a handsome doublet from within the trunk. How.. how did she even know to find that in there? Did she even oversee his packing, while he was kept busy elsewhere? Good grief.

"And then.." she continues, eyeing the garment fastidiously and shaking it free of a few travel-wrinkles, holding it up to the light in both hands, "..in the afternoon I thought we might stroll the markets. Not only does it allow us to explore and perhaps encounter useful persons.. but we can get some idea of the prices others are demanding for their wares.." Glancing back toward him over one shoulder, her expression turns mischievous. "..and then we undercut them, when the time comes. As for dinner.."

He asked the right question, didn't he. It's one of those familiar routines she seems to need to keep her grounded; organizing his day for him, laying it out before his feet but with the grace and leeway to do so in a serving capacity, rather than demanding. "..perhaps we might invite Lady Tiadora to dine with us? Or someone else, if you should happen upon any acquaintances in court. It will shine favorably upon you to show generosity of spirit and an inclination toward social niceties. Not that I have any reason to think you need telling these things." Pivoting on a heel, she walks back toward Eduard, lowering the doublet and offering it out toward him. He might recall having seen a few bolts of cloth in these hues.. but not this final product. Hip-length and buttoned, it looks to be tailored accurately for the young Lord, a resplendent choice of the Farrant black and yellow, with gorgeous embroidery of gold thread decorating the hems and outlining the crest upon one breast; a lone tower of black. It might also occur to him, now, that most often in their evening conversations of late, after supper, Lasair's hands have been occupied with sewing. It wouldn't have stood out much.. she's always doing something.

Taking this all in with a growing sense of conjoined bemusement and dismay, Eduard shakes his head after hearing Lasair's detailed plan for the day and, even more horribly, the doublet that she produces. Of course, this is much the same reaction he always gives when he is forced to wear something fashionable or when having a meticulously crafted schedule laid out before him. Not that he is unused to it, after months of living with Lasair, not by any means. "And here I was hoping that you might consider today something more of a holiday being our first full day back in the city." A hope, not an expectation, judging by the distinct lack of surprise.

Despite this, however, there is a look of warmth as he gazes at Lasair over the apparel he will no doubt be forced into should he not admit defeat and submit to willingly. "Even if I do sometimes miss the days when the most I had to plan was whether I would be camping on the roadside or in an inn, I hope you know that I appreciate the effort you put into all this. Into me." Because the One knows he certainly requires a great deal of effort to manage, as willful as he can sometimes be.

"..oh." Lasair blinks up at the taller Lord, then lowers her gaze to the doublet. Folding it and smoothing a palm across the velvety soft fabric, where it eventually just settles, she frowns a little down at the insignia. A holiday. It says something about her ferocious diligence that the idea hadn't even occurred to her. "Well.. we can do that. If that is your wish, m'Lord. Those other matters can always be postponed until the morrow, I suppose.." So she says, but there's a certain hesitancy in her tone. Eyeing the embroidery she's labored over for the past week, she turns to wander once more, draping the garment over the back of a chair in passing. Men don't care for such details as having a fine doublet to wear at court.. least of all Eduard. But that's why most married men will speak of the evasive 'woman's touch'. It's not always necessarily a lewd meaning.. sometimes it denotes the subtle differences that a feminine counterpart thinks of.

Lasair's trouble is, she thinks too much, at times.

Drawing and loosing a slow breath, she's at the far side of the chamber when she turns to face him again, arms folded now across her slender midsection and a smile returned to her lips, if somewhat less than a moment ago. "This is your venture, Ned. What would you wish to do today..?" She doesn't, for the moment, respond to his proclamations of gratitude.

A fact which Eduard both notices, and seems to frustrate him to some degree. Not least because he now has the distinct feeling that he somehow kicked a puppy in the attempt at both making a joke and then trying to assure her of the importance and esteem with which he views her. "I am bad at this," he sighs to himself, closing his tired eyes briefly and scrubbing at his face with the palm of his hand. Then, with a spryness that belays the very tiredness he was displaying, he leaps from the windowsill and crosses the room to Lasair in only a few wide strides. Taking her by the shoulders, holding his face inches from hers, he says, "Lasair. I value your opinion, and even if I am often irreverent with you, I value you. I appreciate all that you have done and continue to do for me. I will wear the clothes you make for me, and proudly, because they come from your hard work and affection." Starting to pull back a bit, easing off in the intensity of needing her to hear and acknowledge those things, he adds, "And besides, there is enough time in the day for both work and play. We can get things done and still have a holiday."

Beginning to offer some sort of denial in regard to his deprecation, sweeping her eyes downward as both palms fall to an idle smoothing of her bodice, Lasair finds herself interrupted by the sound of approaching steps. And by the time she looks up with a start, Eduard already has her by the shoulders. Those doe-dark eyes widen visibly, surprised and wary as the very creature they put one in mind of.. yet still pools of soft, liquid warmth beneath it all, even with the tension assailing her smaller form. Only a subtle quickening of breath, an increased rise and fall of her chest as she breathes, betrays her reaction to being in such proximity with the handsome Lord. Fear? Unlikely. Uncertainty? Maybe. Something else entirely that she shouldn't even deign to recognize? Yessir.

Eventually, she gathers her wits enough to focus on what he's saying rather than the shapes formed upon his lips; catching up quickly lest he notice he distraction. "..you're not irreverent. You have many cares to weigh, many concerns on your mind. I take no offense to that.. indeed, it is why I choose to help you, until you see fit to reorganize your household to your liking and.." You're stammering, Lasair. Get a grip. Relenting a little, she offers him a faint smile. "We can do whatever takes your fancy today.. it honestly doesn't matter. Nor am I going to have a tantrum if you choose to wear something lighter and less ostentatious. You're a grown man. Dress yourself however you please. It was just a simple gift, because I knew you wouldn't think to.." Trailing off again, she flits her gaze more openly over his features. The next words are softer still, little above a whisper, as she realizes they are still standing in such a way. Even if he has withdrawn slightly. "..let go, Ned.." There's a telling lack of vehemence in the quiet suggestion.. likely she's merely concerned what someone might think, were they to choose this exact moment to stroll into the quiet chamber. Through the open window, the sounds of the awakening city grow distantly audible, as well as the distinct voices and activities of the docks not far away. Sunlight and salty air drift into the room in equal measure. And all Lasair can do is look at him.

That lack of vehemence is important, and yet still causes uncertainty to visit Eduard's features. Because he, after all, was not raised by the Gerrells, and so does not typically think that closeness or the showing of affection outside of wedlock is bad - his own birth notwithstanding. Still, there is a distinct loosening of her robes and a backward step is taken, because Lasair can be quite good at maintaining her emotions, so the vehemence still might be there. All this thought appears as a brief stormcloud across his eyes as he finally lets go of her, and uses the movement to run his fingers through his already disheveled hair, certainly not helping matters. "My apologies," he murmurs. Forcing himself to continue looking her in the eyes, rather then looking away, he squares his shoulders and refuses to let embarrassment deter him. "And no… work first, then we can find something fun to do. And at the very least, our first dinner should go to Tiadora. As Symon's sister, she is our host here, and she deserves our first attentions - since I doubt the Queen would accept such an invitation from the likes of me." Some small part of his humor still remains at the fringes of his smile as he adds, "Everything else you have arranged for us, we will do, and I will wear the doublet."

And therein lies the trouble. They've known closeness and affection. And while it's not been spoken of in the months since their sudden reunion, it's occasionally, in moments such as these, clearly recalled by both of them. The proximity and touch aren't what unsettle Lasair.. it's that disquieting, undeniable knowledge that she doesn't consider it improper and in fact has to fight her own instincts in order to waylay it that she finds so disconcerting. It takes every ounce of willpower to maintain that distance.. and her resolve weakens a little further every time. How atrociously pathetic of her, as a Priestess, to be so easily drawn. The best way to rid oneself of temptation is to yield to it.. but a refusal to do denotes the strength required of her station. And his. If Eduard's eyes reveal a stormcloud? Her own are a reflection of it. Especially when he holds her gaze in the breathless moment following his obedient withdrawal.

A shake of her head gently in kind is offered. "..don't apologize.." After all, it's she who is weak. He was only making his point and she.. well, she considers herself quite alone when it comes to the feelings roused by it. Summoning one of those gentle smiles, she breathes easier after a brief pause. "Very well. Then.. I should likely see about having some breakfast arranged for you, before we depart." Her own appetite is considerably diminished, given that her stomach appears to be turning somersaults. "And I can have someone pass on the message to our gracious hostess, in case our paths do not cross." Stepping around the tall Lord, careful not to draw too close, she glances toward the abandoned doublet, electing to leave it be for now. Her priority is to depart and find a moment en route to the kitchens to pause until her heart ceases thudding against her ribs.

"Of course," Eduard responds simply, finally letting his eyes leave hers and turning back towards the window, moving towards it to draw some semblance of comfort and strength from the view. And if there is little of either to be had there, at least he can use the distraction to stiffen his resolve.

Before she can escape completely from the room, however, his voice calls her attention back to him briefly. Without turning to face her, his tall frame shadowed by the still rising sun and the flood of color from the window, he says, "Lasair. What you said earlier, about reorganizing my household to suit me…" Apparently he had been listening even when she was starting to ramble. "You are the key part of that, for as long as you wish to be. You can claim whatever title you wish, steward, adviser, confessor, it matters not. But you are the head of my household as much as I, and all decisions regarding it's formation will be decided by both of us, not just me, for you have my deep and abiding trust." And with that, he lets her go, saying no more. At least not where she can hear it.

For, some time later, his fist curled as he stares unseeing at the sunset-hued vista before him, he murmurs near silently, "And my heart, the Divine Father damn me for a fool."

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