(1866-11-8) The Prodigal Brother
The Prodigal Brother
Summary: Talia greets her brother who has returned from a long venture on behalf of the family.
Date: 1866-11-09
Related: None
Talia  Darman  

Dining Room
Room within the Keep of Three Rivers

Talia is seated in the dining area, though there is no formal meal. Instead, just a small plate of things left out, including wine, cheese, fruit, meat, and bread. She is reading a book on history of the Edge - as her brother well knows, and her husband is coming to know, a curious hobby for Talia. Most of the servants have been dismissed for the evening, however there are a few - such as Sophia, Talia's "right hand" so to speak, who are likely about and on call if needed.

Darman is recently, one might even say freshly returned, having been away on a bit of a tour through the lands of a few neighboring families and their respective courts, some vague combination of goodwill mission and espionage. But just the casual sort of espionage, this time, the sort one does as more of an idle activity one takes up when nothing more important is going on to make sure… well, that nothing important is going on. Evidently, not too much was, as he's returned a little early, though this might also be to accomodate upcoming travel. Having dissapeared for a while before dinner to kick off the travel dust, Darman appears in the dining room just a little late and with his hair damp, as if just from a bath. Walking in, he nabs some cheese off the table while navigating along to a seat, glancing side to side as he goes. "Mmm, I thought I'd be the one holding things up. What's kept your husband?"

There is a smile, genuine, that alights in Talia's features when she looks up to see her brother. She rises, setting the book down to walk over to him and kiss his cheek affectionately. "Welcome home, little brother," she says. Though, at mention of her husband she frowns, ever-so-slightly. "Nevermind that. You'll meet him soon enough." A hand settles on her stomach, lightly. "Soon enough, you shall be an Uncle. What you should worry about is helping craft my child to be our father's perfect grandson."

There is a brief grimace; Darman would know his sister more than well enough to realize she is not fond of getting pregnant. Or the thought of childbirth. These are things, likely, she has much in common with the Lady Alina. "I trust your excursion was both interesting, and profitable?"

Darman pauses and -almost- looks ready to retreat back around the table the other way as his sister is up to greet him, but relents with a slight slouch, almost like a boy embarassed for his mother fussing at him in public, as she seems set on making a big moment of the whole thing. He will obligingly give her a squeeze with his free arm, the other holding the cheese up and away as not to get smeared on anyone. "You act like I've been half around the world," he comments nonchalantly, waiting for the whole disply to run its course, whereupon he finally gets to pop the snack in his mouth. "And well, we all live here, hmm, so I imagine I'll see him sooner or later."

Once he's free, he slips away to find a seat, just a place or so distant so the distance is conversational but he can, among other things, not drip on anyone as he shakes his hair a bit. "Mm, well, I don't know much about uncle-ing but I imagine I'll get the hang of it. I'm sure he'll do -you- proud." Dear old dad gets glossed over neatly enough. "Interesting? Not really. I'm happy enough to be back. Only so many backwoods lords showing off their daughters and equally hick young knights romancing them that I can take. No trouble with the business, though."

"Excellent," responds Talia, nodding some. "I cannot wait for you to meet my bard in full. You met him only in passing at my wedding. But even since then, he's progressed further. Quite the commodity he's turned out to be." She sounds pleased with the fact. "And things go well here at home as well, for the most part. I've set our cousin to guard the Lady Alina. And watch. I don't like the fact that the t'Rannis girl is spending so much time with her. Not one bit. I'm hoping she can come up with something while serving." She frowns, momentariliy. "Though. Nevermind." There is an air about her that suggests she doesn't wish to speak of Angelique further, just now.

"Sit," she invites. "And rest some. I don't think I'll be sending you away for long anytime soon. I'll need someone I can trust around, once -," she frowns again, "Things move along further." The pregnancy, of course.

The other advantage of the intervening seat is that Darman can, and does, put his feet up, balancing between the two chairs in a fashion that is certainly not proper for polite dinner. But at least he's obviously shed his more travel-worn footwear on the way, feet wiggling in some light slippers. Thus posed, he plucks idly at the nearest tray, selecting a morsel here or there amidst the rest and popping them in his mouth between comments or in longer segments of his sister's speech, which are probably the majority. "Nevermind?" he eventually querries. "If I don't mind, I can't help. So explain if you want, you won't bore me any more than the country maids and knights." And then, a light wave of his arm, sweeping. "You know I'm at your disposal, as needed."

"A personal matter, between she and I, brother-dear," Talia responds, in a cordial voice that suggests the topic is not open for debate. She pours a bit of wine, then, and hands him the goblet before pouring herself one. "There is one trip you should take though. I want your eyes there as there. I have other matters to see to here. The Rivanian wedding." Of course, Talia refers to -the- wedding. The Viscount Jaren Cassomir to the Queen. "Not that we'll be intruding upon our Rivanian families, certainly. But still. Information is information. And there will no doubt be plenty of sordid details to unravel, that later may be of use to us. If nothing else, plenty of revelry the likes of which shan't be seen for some time."

"Well, far be it for anyone to call me nosy," Darman replies airily, with a hint of self-aware irony, nosiness being more or less part of his job description these days. The wine is accepted with a look that is almost comically over-grateful, and grows somehow even moreso after he actually enjoys a sip. "You wouldn't believe what they serve at some of these places," he asides, as if to explain this great moment of joy. "But I suppose they'll serve even better for royal nuptials, hmm? Well, yes, I'd rather thought I would go, even though it means packing up again no sooner than my foot is in the door. It was one of the reasons I cut things a little short, to be sure I'd have time to make new arrangements and travel." So there's clearly no arm-twisting needed here. "I do like a good revel, now and then."

"Well, once you're back, I promise that you shall not be sent away after this," Talia swears to her brother. "I have missed you. But I -do- think you'll like Phillipe. He's grown rather - loyal," Talia says, almost nostagically as one might speak of a favorite pet. "And rather cold. I'm quite glad I didn't take his life." She sips at her own wine, then takes a bite of cheese. "Though if you have any desires of your own - any ventures, leads, you've but to ask. I'm certain some of our men will be glad to have you back as well."

Darman lifts a hand from his cup to make another vague wave, back over his shoulder. "Oh, do not be so dramatic about it. That promise is neither one you can reasonably expect, nor would I wish for you, to keep. There could be a war tomorrow and we'd all be running bout like mad, hmm?" Here he again reaches for his cup, lifts it near his mouth while peering over the rim at her, and then sip. "Even this last tour had its bonuses. Country maids aren't -all- bad." Soonafter finding the cup exhausted, he holds it out with a wiggle. "My first request is more wine. Besides that, I honestly couldn't say, being a touch of the loop. I'll find something. This new agent of yours, what does he do? And do for us?"

"He's likely one of the best bards in the country, save perhaps the King's own." She seems to consider this, earnestly, honestly. "Arguably better. His name is Philippe. And he's quite remarkable. Amongst his penchants for talents? A ruthlessness I've particularly - cultivated. He's a lovely forger. And a fair hand at planting information, rumors, and, well, the sort of subtle work involving conversation and convincing. He's a keen mind for details, too. Observations. You'll like him." Of this, she's convinced. "I'm likely to promote him again, soon."

"Oh, well, that all sounds useful enough," Darman echoes, a vague agreement that suggests less resistance to the idea and more a lack of impulse or cause to disagree. He gets along well with most people, really! "I do enjoy music with my wine," he will then go on to say, as if this is the most important part of the whole thing, although no doubt his other skills are filed away for reference. "Really, though, if you like him then I'm convinced. You're far harder to please on that account."

Talia allows herself a small laugh. "Yes. Quite. You should have seen him when I brought him down to torture a traitor. To see what kind of man he was. He barely hesitated. I'm not certain if it's because he wished to do it, if he wished to please me, or if he thought his own punishment by not doing it would be worse." She looks partly amused, and shrugs her shoulders, "Regardless, it's shaped him. He's some training with blades, but nowhere near your skill."

Darman's brows knit a little at that, not in any objection of course but really in a more perplexed fashion. "I admit that I don't know if I've ever met a bard with secret sadistic tendencies, and I go to a -lot- of taverns. One of the latter two, maybe. We all do so much to please you." Here he puts on an overly sweet look for effect. "Maybe he has a crush on you." Of the last, he can only say, with a bit of a laugh, "Well, I'm glad to hear that at least. If I was being outdone by sadistic entertainers, I'd say it was time to hang it up and retire to some island. I'd also be suspicious of every tavern singer I ever saw after. I might still be!"

Talia smiles easily. Her brother always did amuse her, so. "Yes, and you all do it so well. Still," she says gently after pushing the plate of food towards him, "You are right. And simply because we are at peace upon hill and valley does not mean there is peace within the shadows we work in. Likely quite the opposite."

Here, Talia pauses. She says, quietly as she returns to the subject of the bard, "He has tendencies that lead me to suspect he may be open to the Truth." Meaning, of course, The Many. "I intend to cultivate this, and see just how open he is to the true faith."

"Well, it seems as though you have a suitable, moldable student in him," Darman declares, again in that not especially concerned, pleased, displeased, or otherwise committed way. "And good help is always so hard to find. Let me know if you ever want me to… drag him somewhere, to help, or sing, or torture people behind the wine barrels, whatever exactly the situation calls for." A shake of his head. "Really, wouldn't think it of a singer. They always seem such jolly. amiable and friendly sorts." Again, there is irony in the comment, although this time he doesn't seem quite so aware of it. "Anything else of great note or shall I go finish unpacking so I can start packing again properly? At least I had time for a bath."

"Well, I've spoken enough about him. I'll allow him to leave his own impression when you meet him." She half-smiles, then. Tips her head, some. "How have you been? All revelries and women aside? Do you need anything?"

Darman holds his hands out, apart. "What is there aside from revelry and women?" A grin at his own levity, and then he gives a slight shrug, letting his arms fall back to his lap. "No, I'm well enough, and looking forward to the wedding. Well, not really to the wedding, but you know what I mean. Even if it's more travel, there is at least a bit of purpose to it. I suppose, beyond that, I am anxious to catch up with court here, and with business. I have both friends and associations I've not spoken with in a little too long."

"I know Sophia is greatly pleased to have you back. As much as she is endeared to me, she has not forgotten you," Talia presses with a faint smile. She inclines her head, "Relax a little. And I'll ensure you go to Rivana in comfort, and style." Once her wine is filled, she sips again. "And if you wish a small celebration for your return, that, too can be arranged for close associates and friends. Nothing wild, though," she cautions, with good humor.

Darman stretches a bit in his chair, although with his feet up it ends up looking a little awkward. "Well, I do like a stylish arrival, although I think I will enjoy even more the brief time I'm able to sleep in my own bed between trips." At this, he pulls his feet down with just a light thud. "Mmm. I shouldn't be hungover for the trip, I imagine. Maybe for my second return. Or is that what you meant? In any case, I'm never one to turn down a party, as often as I'm the one throwing them myself. Nice to skip out on the work of hosting, once in a while."

"Once you've settled in, of course. After the wedding," Talia insists. Dryly, she remarks, "No doubt the midwife will want me housebound by that point." Darman can only guess how well -that- will go over, with his overly indulgent sister. She adds, almost thoughtful, "We've a new spy as well. His name is Gastogne. He's a fearful little man. But, he's proven perceptive. And able. I'd like to get your assessment of him. And, perhaps you ought befriend him. He's quite afraid of me, and Philippe." Talia does not seem overly regretful of that in the least. "Someone he feels he can confide in, perhaps."

"I suppose I shall have to do the reveling for both of us, once you're well and truly plumped up," Darman says, perhaps teasingly and with sympathy alike. "A great sacrifice I shall willingly undertake for our family, like so many others." Of the yet-another new man on their list of agents and associates, he makes again the familiar gesture of parted hands, drawing himself as the wide open book. "Well, I befriend everyone, so that shouldn't be any sort of trouble. I'm likeable, they tell me. But I'll go extra to make the fellow feel warm and safe, just to be sure."

Rising, then, Talia nods. She murmurs, "Welcome home, dear brother. But, I've a few things to see to before I take rest, myself." She inclines her head, before starting to walk out the room. She pauses, at the doorway, turning to face him. "I will be sending our sister a missive, soon. Should you wish to write her, or send gift, let me know before midday. Do sleep well."

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