(1866-12-04) Girl Talk
Girl Talk
Summary: Alina and Esyld enjoy a little quiet time.
Date: 04/12/1866
Related: None
Alina  Esyld  

Drawing Room, l'Saigner Manse, Sunsreach
In set
Decembre 4th, 1866

It's always a little strange, being away from 'home'. There's always a settling-in phase, after a fashion. Even the Black Foxes, accustomed as they are to travel and contracts and caravans, still have their little rituals to help them feel content and their Captain is no exception. Truth be told, she's one of the greatest sticklers for it.

Following a somewhat delayed arrival (and at least some time spent with the Duke's bastard..), Esyld has kept herself habitually busy around the manse being utilised by the ruling family of Lonnaire and their entourage. There's not an awful lot that needs organising, of course. The entire city is well secured, given the previous nuptials, and infused with a general feeling of camraderie and good cheer. Which, when you're paid to be menacing and such, makes for rather a dull time.

This afternoon - a drab, though dry one of grey skies and brisk seabreeze - the tall brunette is stooped over a polished table, set in a pleasant corner of a largely ignored drawing room. It's not that she's anti-social, exactly.. she just considers it best to stay 'out of the way' of things that don't concern her. Holding her interest, rather than the excitement and glamour of the upcoming tourney and associated social events, appear to be an array of maps. Sunsreach and the outlying areas. Well, those and the pitcher of strongwine set to one side. A woman of simple pleasures, is Esyld. Hands braced on the pristine surface, she twists her lips in a vaguely contemplative manner, vivid eyes raking over the parchment with little actual purpose. But it's always wise to know your way around, in a tight spot.

Alina is also in the drawing room, though she is actually using it for its supposed purpose: drawing. A series of sketches, all in increasingly daring fashion designs, have been piling up on her table. She seems intent on the drawing, to the point of ignoring the lemonwater that had been brought for her an hour ago.

Her husband was likely out practicing his knightly skills somewhere, under the guarding eye of a couple of Wraiths. Not that they were too worried the man couldn't fend for himself, but appearances.

As the de facto head of the Lonnaire contingent in Sunsreach, Alina usually made herself available in such public rooms so her vassals could speak to her as needed. Thankfully, none had yet availed her of it so far this day.

There's a lot to be said for companionable quiet. Esyld is a great believer in it. But eventually someone will always tire of silence. Taking up her goblet, the Captain abandons her musings for the moment and straightens to her full height, casting an absent-minded gaze toward the daughter of the Duchess. A few beats further and she starts toward the elegant blonde, unobtrusively quiet but far from stealthy, her head tilting a little askance as she regards the current sketch. Does she consider it outrageously daring? It'd take a lot to scandalise the t'Maren, in all probability.

Arching a single brow, she ventures, after a gentle clearing of her throat and nod of indication toward Alina's work, "..very fetching, m'Lady." The compliment appears genuine enough. Esyld does tend toward 'blunt as a spoon' rather than the silken, silver-tongued style of a courtier. Unsurprising.

Drawing to a halt a few feet away, she takes a sip of her rich wine and, on a whim, decides to make the most of an opportunity to be in the young woman's company without any pressing urgency or life-threatening issues. Though, manners come first. "I imagine you are enjoying a little peace and quiet, after the hubbub of the festival..?" Therein lies the choice for either curt agreement and dismissal.. or idle chit-chat. A glance flits to the uppermost drawing in the steadily-growing pile, though she keeps her opinions to herself for now.

Alina nods, adding a few more lines to her current sketch. "The relaxation is nice. The tourney will bring more excitement, and since it will be Gabriel's last— unless the prize for another tournament is something like sidhe steel— I will be hoping he shows well. His brother Michael seems poised to win, which will mean true twins taking the Circuit back to back." She grins.

"But do you have any interest in the tournament, I wonder?" she asks idly. "If you were knighted, you could have been fighting in it, of course." An observation, not meant to to sting but not pulled because it might, either.

"I always have interest, m'Lady.." replies the brunette, a smile likewise tugging at the corner of her lips, though her eyes linger for now on that discarded sketch. "..I've always found you can learn a lot from observing opponents, even if not set against them yourself. Of course, my own style is rather less… elegant.. than the likes of my half-brother." There's a wry chuckle to accompany this thought, though she doesn't seem particularly bitter in regard to the comparison.

Moving again, unhurried and with her own sort of vaguely masculine grace in her carriage, Esyld wanders around the perimeter of Alina's immediate area, absently swirling her wine in its cup. "Who would want the likes of me, even if I were knighted, fighting for their honor and grandeur? The audience wants and expects heroes, m'Lady. The likes of your husband. Not some ruffian thug. Charming entertainment, perhaps. But considered a genuine competitor? I doubt it." Pushing her dark hair back from her brow, the Captain flashes the young lady an unabashed, lopsided smile. "..I don't say so for sympathy. I imagine there are a few knights m'Lady might rather like me to hoof in the bollocks for her. But such things aren't seemly."

Alina laughs. "My husband would be the first to deny that he's the heroic type," she replies warmly. "He thinks of himself as a soldier above all else, one that simply happens to have the adoration of the nation. It's entertaining to me to watch him try and avoid the hero lable." Though it's obvious she agrees with it— the man has made a habit of saving her life, after all.

"But I think you would fare just as well on the field as those of greater birth," she continues. "Perhaps with as much love from the commons and the stands— people tend to chapion different sorts, some like the valiant handsome heroic knights, some the charmers, like Sir Elrick… but I think I would root for a competent woman." She winks.

"Aren't the humble heroes the most appealing..?" Whether she had misgivings about the match initially or not, Esyld certainly seems to agree with the offered sentiment. chuckling softly into her cup as she takes another small sip. She can still appreciate certain qualities in the most renowned of men, even if her own taste apparently leans toward the more uncouth and less.. sweet. "Well, thank you, m'Lady." The Fox has the good grace to lower her unsettling eyes as she draws to a halt again and smiles for the compliment. "Coming from one with such fine taste in her trusted guards, I consider that high praise indeed."

Craning her neck a touch, she not-so-subtley steals a peek at the sketch as it comes along. "..for the ball? Or just for amusement's sake?" Pleasant daydreams of playing knight are set aside in the face of far more terrifying propositions than melee and jousting. Dancing and smalltalk. One might fancy they can already see the woman paling at the thought. Champions may come in many guises, true.. but it takes nerves of steel, at times, simply to don a gown.

"Just sketching. Most of these designs will never see the light of day," Alina replies with the understanding of the court. "Oh, I might enjoy the idea of entirely scandlaizing the court, but its something that I have to slowly introduce. Little scandals are fun. Large ones can be ruinous," she states. "Even the artwork I'm sending in for the art competition is beyond what I would make and wear in public."

"Ahh, the elusive middle-ground of scandal." Even as she's murmuring the response, Esyld's attention lingers on the silhouette taking shape under Alina's deft strokes. "This is one arena in which I have no hope, m'Lady." Typically self-effacing. "I suppose elegance and poise weren't exactly focal aspects of my upbringing.. truth be told, I own one gown, and even that was a hand-me-down. One my stepmother considered useless and therefore ideal for me, perhaps? I rather like it, though.. for those occasions where I must look like a lady. Or a very poorly drawn impression of one."

Drifting away again, Esyld allows a moment's pause before she poses a question, no longer within Alina's line of sight and thus shielding her expression, whatever it may be. "If it is not too bold, m'Lady.. at what point did your relationship with your now-husband really feel.. well, real, to you? I suppose that may be an odd question, given the nature of betrothal…"

Alina considers that in silence for some time. Then she tilts her head and replies, "When he came for me as he said he would."

She waves absently, then places down her pencil. "When I released the Crown Prince to his custody, knowing I was likely going to my own death in my attempt to kill Father. Gabriel came, and he brought his brother with him— when they arrived at the rendevous and he was clear that he trusted me, my word, my need, so much that with only a simple request he rode across Couviere, brought the future Duke of Murnord and a former Cavalier— he brought exactly what I needed without me having to specify." She blushes slighty and smiles a bit. "And he kissed me good-bye. We didn't have to say what we both knew, that it was likely to be our last. He was tender, and gentle, and yet there was something of a deep passion there in that to-be-last kiss." She hmms. "That's when I knew that if I survived, I would be able to love him, because it was clear he was willing, despite our families' dislike of each other, to trust and to love me."

For her part, Esyld takes all this in in silence, noting the nuances of the young lady's expression and tone as she speaks of her husband. The man who will one day be Duke. She smiles faintly when Alina does, nods a little at intervals to convey her understanding. But it's that momentary flush of warmth across the blonde's cheekbones that rouses a genuine curve across her own lips. Odd, how even the most formidable of women can still be.. well, if not felled at the very least swayed.. by something so simple as a kiss with the most pure of intents. "The last thing you need, if I may say so, m'Lady, is someone who would yield too easily to your every whim. Passion and strength are without doubt necessary in any man who would be your partner, I think."

Echoing that quiet hmm, she hesitates and sips from her wine before continuing on. "I have served your family for many years now. I know first hand how greatly you value trust. You must, there's no hope for it. I am truly glad you have found someone worthy of it, and willing to give it in kind." Another pause, though only thoughtful rather than uncertain. And then, typically, the mercenary breaks the moment of empathy with a characteristic lack of guile. "I was stone drunk, the first time Corvin and I kissed."


Alina snorts. "Sounds like Corvin. Though I'm plesed he's found some meaure of happiness with someone at least worthwhile. His usual toys are quite useless, though I'm afraid that's more of a requirement for his position. At least with you he can be himself— competent, functional— instead of what he oft pretends to be."

Esyld wrinkles her nose a little, before conceding, "..In his defence.. well, no. It's not up to me to defend him. That would require more time than I can devote, day to day." Relenting to a slight grin, the Captain shrugs one shoulder, not seeming perturbed by the choice of phrasing. She's well aware of Fremont's past and reputation. And usual taste in dalliances. "Thank you, m'Lady. My personal opinion is that perhaps a man in his position, more than most, deserves someone with whom he needs no masks or charades. And, more to the point, someone who can knock him on his backside when he does that 'smug' look." Casting her gaze off toward the doorway for a few beats, she adds only belatedly, "..I suppose everyone has their masks to don. Simply some are more important. And some more dangerous." Present company not excepted.

Alina nods in silent agreement. She returns her attention to her drawing. "How are things with you two, if I might ask?" she queries.

If she's bothered by the question, there's not even the flicker of an eyelash to betray it. Gesturing vaguely with her wine-hand, she paces idly across the floor with no real destination in mind as she speaks, simply prowling about the room as if constant motion eases the flow of her words. "Well enough. Admittedly, in the beginning, I believed it nothing more to him than a bit of sport, a passing fancy. Especially given the last woman to hold his affection for any length of time." No, she doesn't disguise the curl of her upper lip, even in this indirect mention of the t'Corbeau. "I assumed it was a matter of him desiring some manner of power over me, given how I used to fight him at every turn. But it would seem those passions are simply.." She permits a brief, wolfish smile. "..redirected."

Catching herself, and not exactly wishing to overshare lest Alina find any offence in such familiarity, the Captain idly rakes back her dark tresses with the fingertips of her free hand and looses a sigh, those striking blue eyes wandering over the assortment of books occupying the shelves she's passing. "..your father's.. encouragement of it all. That took me aback somewhat, at first. But hearing his words echoed in your own, I suppose I can understand, m'Lady. You both care for him deeply." With a certain measure of conviction, Esyld sets her gaze toward the young lady; a mutinous set to her jaw. "..as do I. Whether he tires of me in the end or not, I will do all I can to keep him from harm of any kind."

Alina nods. "Well," she shrugs, "better you than the Viscountess. She has a bed she should be keeping to anyway," she sneers. "And at least you have no designs on possessing my brother. Should that change, recall that however skilled you may be with a blade, you'll still die suffering— for my preferred methods are more painful than a blade ever could be." A blunt threat— no, a promise. She is quite possessive of her brother herself. And offing a bastard is nothing, where directing that rage towards a noble causes more problems…

Though Alina is quickly amiable again. "but I doubt you're that foolish."

"No, m'Lady. I am not." Esyld's tone is even and her manner unflinching, despite her proper etiquette. A fleeting glimpse of ice overlays her features at even this fractional implication that she might be anything but steadfast and loyal to the family she serves, though it is banished nigh instantaneously in keeping with Alina's own return to warmth. "I am not one for possessions or designs. Which is likely why I've so little understanding of the court and its games. At least, that shall remain my official stance." The Captain smirks faintly. "Not everyone is so subtle as they wish to be.. especially when you are far enough beneath their notice to observe them with ease. One of the boons of low birth, I expect. A few do exist." Idly, she swirls the remnants of her wine, before strolling back in the direction of her maps, unhurriedly. "And how is your condition treating you today, m'Lady?" Now that the threats are out of the way, it's a return to niceties.

"I'm tired," Alina replies frankly. "Quite tired. I spent much of my last pregnancy in hiding and pretending to be dead, which allowed me much more time to rest. Of course I hate getting larger.." Alina taps her growing stomach with mild annoyance. "But according to the healers I'm coming along nicely. I do hope its a daughter," she confides. "Gabriel will be pleased either way, but a daughter would be nice."

Setting down her near-empty goblet on the table once more, Esyld winces in appropriate sympathy, taking the uppermost map and rolling it in a brisk motion. "I cannot imagine any of it, m'Lady. I don't particularly see myself as much of a mother.. the life of a mercenary is no place for a child." Smiling a touch in the wake of the admission, though, she does offer, "..I suppose if I were to have one.. I'd be a better parent to a son. But you, m'Lady, I can quite envision as a model for the next generation of l'Saigner noblewomen. And the fashions would be a near ceaseless entertainment." A gentle tease, only. Any daughter of Alina's would, without a doubt, have the best of everything.

"Well, Gabriel has two sons," Alina says, unknowingly, "and so I deserve a daughter." She grins. "At least one. But we have time. Peace is a good thing, and I look forward to having a less eventful time than the last couple of years," she notes. "I do look forward to returning to court. Will you be willing to be part of our guards? I'm sure Corvin would enjoy it."

"As always." is the prompt response to the matter of her willingness to join the entourage. Finishing with her map, stowing it away neatly on a nearby bookcase, Esyld flashes a brief smile toward the l'Saigner. "You have certainly earned yourself time for respite, m'Lady." she agrees, matter-of-factly, "And I would be pleased to accompany you wherever you may have need in the months to come." Yes, Corvin would enjoy it. But that's a bonus, not a reason! "For now, I shall leave you to your relaxation. No doubt there are some Foxes in need of something to occupy themselves." Pivoting slowly on a booted heel, the Captain starts toward the door.

"Don't work them too hard," Alina jokes as she returns her full attention to her drawing. Then the blonde is focused and back to ignoring much of the world around her.

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