(1868-03-28) Duties and Circumstances
Duties and Circumstances
Summary: On a market stroll with her son Etienne in Rovilon, Antonia has a surprising encounter with Leander Giraldi.
Date: 28/03-04/04/2017 (Date of RP)
Related: Recent plague stuff, plus Leander/Amara related logs.
Players:
Antonia  Leander  NPC  

Mercat Circle - Rovilon - Couviere

The home of most of Rovilon's shops and businesses. The Mercat district centers around the market at the crossing of the King's Avenue and Goldcoin Lane, the latter of which runs the full circuit of the district. The market is well-kept with a large central fountain, white cobble stones and a wide variety of stalls to suit almost any decent taste or need.

The rest of the district is managed by the guilds and shops of the same type can usually be found close together along with the hall of the guild they belong to. These areas are obsessively well-kept as a matter of pride as each guild tries to outdo the others by making their area cleaner and more inviting then that of their rivals.

Marse 28th, 1868

Much had happened in the past few months. Couviere, as much as the rest of the Edge was recovering from the plague, and now with schedules returning to normal, people were returning to their usual day-to-day routines. Such as is the case in Rovilon, of course, on this wonderful late Marse morning. With only a few clouds drifting on a sky that is radiating in the deepest blue, and a sun that bathes the various stands and shops in the Mercat Circle in the optimistic warmth of a spring day, a princess has elected to visit the market, with the usual retinue of guards and retainers.

Antonia l’Valdan may be a t’Tremaine by birth, yet she has been so fortunate as to have been married to the King’s younger brother, Prince Silvio, in a minimally fruitful union which had at least brought about a son. A son who strolls now along with his mother, on this delightful day off from lessons and training. Lord Etienne l’Valdan is a boy who has turned twelve years old a little more than a week ago. Pride there in his stride that may also reflect a little in the warm glances his mother shoots him now and then, as they walk among the shops and stands, perhaps in search for a belated birthday gift?

—-

The Mercat circle is indeed busier than it had been of late…a sure sign that the city, and perhaps the Edge as a whole, was returning to at least some semblance of normal. Another sign is that it appears that more than just Rovilon locals seem to be present in the marketplace. Though certainly lesser in number, there does seem to be at least a few unfamiliar crests being sported upon garments as the patrons mill about. It would seem that as the Edge recovers, so to does the trading and mercantile industry.

Part of that recovery is due, in no small part, to the new alchemical concoction that was developed to combat the plague, conceived by a coalition of Rivanan houses…including a certain merchant family with deep pockets. Which is why Sir Leander Giraldi finds himself one of those somewhat unfamiliar faces in the marketplace. Truth be told, when it came time to make a delivery of the plague drug to Rovilon, Leander offered to join the party, representing the Giraldi house, along with a pair of Silva alchemists and a few others of the coalition. Of course, Leander had ulterior motives. After all, the Lady Amara t’Tremaine was in Rovilon, and Amara had been ill before, according to the writings the two have shared. So, the trip to Rovilon was also a chance to check on her, as well as assist her by providing the means to combat the dreaded illness that took so many.

Leander himself is outside, speaking with a merchant about the latest fashion…hats and other wares to obfuscate the unfortunate hair loss that is one of the plague’s symptoms. The two seem to be speaking rather candidly, with the local merchant actually smiling and seemingly enjoying the chance to speak ‘shop’ with another. It is apparent that not all Couvieri hold Rivanans in contempt.

Especially if they come bearing coin.

—-

Not all Couvieri hold Rivanans in contempt, but in Antonia's case, her eyes narrow instantly in a displeased fashion, when she spots the familiar face among the non-Couvieri on the market. It is enough to make the princess pause in her steps; a princess, who also wears the usual garb that befits a Falcon, armor and sword, rather than a pretty dress a Royal would usually be seen in.

The smile that had clung to her features dims into a straight line, when her grey eyes take on an expression somewhere between surprise and indignation. The gesture of her hand, indicating to her retainers to fall back a little, is resolute. She glances towards Etienne, pondering. But then lifts her shoulders in faint shrug, taking his hand into hers.

Leander, should he note her approach, can easily tell this is not by coincidence, the heavy boots of Sir Antonia l'Valdan speaking of a disposition that seeks to confront rather than evade. And while three guards follow along, the rest of their company remains where they are, intent to observe from afar, whatever it is that will unfold.

"Sir." The concise greeting is uttered with that faint hint of impatience and something else, and Antonia's stare will ensure Leander will know it is him she is speaking to.

Etienne lifts his gaze to study Leander with the unbegrudging curiosity of someone who apparently was not raised on t'Tremaine lands.

—-

It isn’t the heavy footfalls of the oncoming princess that signals Leander of Sir Antonia’s oncoming presence. It is, rather, the slight paling of the merchant as his attention diverts to regard royalty and the sudden change in tone from cordial to professional. It causes the Giraldi to turn…and if there was any indication of displeasure at all upon Leander’s expression, one would be quite hard pressed to find it. Instead, Leander remains passive, using the moment to quickly assess the situation, running a mental tally of who is in the particular trying scenario the knight finds himself in.
One somewhat annoyed royal princess.

Three guards for said annoyed princess, with more of the l’Valdan’s retinue behind, waiting in the wings.

One slightly panicked merchant, already trying to make himself scarce.

And…one young prince, born without the prejudices that a certain royal princess knight was instilled with during childhood.

And…with that assessment finished in a blink of an eye, Leander knows what course to take. One that he is rather familiar with. The situation calls for charm. The passive expression breaks into a pleasant countenance…joyful but respectful, as the Rivanan knight bows before the l’Valdan princess in greeting. “Your Highness. It is certainly an honor to greet you outside of the tournament arena.” There is a slight turn towards the merchant, as Leander excuses himself to interact with Antonia directly, which the merchant is more than happy to allow as he practically disappears. No matter, since Leander has already moved on to interact with the princess and her little prince. The touch of impatience and perhaps disgust in Antonia’s greeting does precious little from changing Leander’s own tone, which remains cordial. “I had not expected to see a familiar face during my short stay in this fine city. Perhaps the One has decided to grace me with this opportunity.”

Or curse him. Depends upon one’s point of view.

—-

Can it be that those steely grey eyes narrow just a tad more, when Antonia is confronted with such an amiable greeting. But then again, she does not counter it immediately, giving Leander the time he needs to offer explanation of sorts, which does not come. Still. That considering stare will continue to linger on the Rivanan from an ennobled merchant family. And it will take another moment, for those lips of hers to curve slowly upwards - the literal smile that will not reach to her eyes.

“An unexpected honor, I would think,” Antonia declares in a somewhat neutral tone, as her hand lets go of Etienne’s and her arms cross before her. The already withdrawing merchant is acknowledged with a nod of her head in his direction. “As for your claim not to have expected to see a familiar face…”, she continues then, gaze flickering slightly, “I do not believe you.” Getting to the point. Directly to the point. “May I ask what brings you to this fair city?” The use of his own words may not be coincidental, as her voice is laced with that faint tinge of irony. Despite all of this, Leander can tell, that composure and twelve years at court manage to keep her irritation at bay; no, rather, it keeps it -almost- hidden beneath the facade of polite courtesy.

—-

“Most unexpected, indeed, Your Highness.” Leander is certainly being truthful with that admission. A minor shrug is given as Antonia blatantly declares her disbelief. “Be that as it may, I regrettably declare that it is the case. As I previously stated, I am only here for a limited time.” There is a pause, enough for Leander to gather his thoughts. He does not mention whom which Antonia is referring to. Indeed, a far friendlier face than one Leander is facing now…that of the lady Amara. And, while he had hoped perhaps to have seen her at some point, he certainly didn’t expect it by any stretch of the imagination. But, to tell this to the haughty princess before him, whose irritation at his mere presence is seeping through that mask of politeness? No…most certainly not.

Instead, Leander opts to answer the question given him. “Why certainly, Your Highness.” The merchant knight stands his ground, remaining as pleasant as always. He has no quarrel with Antonia…a fact that seems easily noticeable by both young eyes and old. “A shipment of medicine for the horrific plague that finally is releasing the kingdoms from its grip has been delivered. I am not sure how current on foreign affairs you are, so please forgive me if this is old information. The alchemical remedy found to be most effective at dealing with the malady was developed by a congress of houses, of which House Giraldi played a key role in the obtaining and shipment of essential ingredients for House Silva, the alchemists who discovered the remedy.” There is a break for just the briefest of beats, before Leander continues. “Unfortunately, the Silva are not known for their martial prowess and, as you can imagine, the medicine is rather in demand. Unsavory types could hijack a shipment and then sell at a tremendous markup. To ensure that does not happen, members of the coalition that are more military-minded have volunteered to help guard shipments, to ensure that the medicine is delivered to those that need it.” With that, Leander takes a step back, offering a short bow…but to Antonia or her son Etienne it is hard to say. “And that is why I am here. We have just made our delivery to the healers and I was passing the time in the Mercat before we schedule to take the faegate back. Which is why I speak truly when I state I am only here for a short time. Perhaps two to three days at the most.”

Leander allows some time to let the fact that he does indeed have a valid reason to be in Rovilon to weigh in. “Surely you would agree, Your Highness, that any assistance that can be offered to our esteemed healers to help combat this terrible disease would be welcomed? I can only imagine that the healer ranks have thinned as they battled this unseen foe. If there is anything that I can do to help a healer…any healer…then I will do it.” It is a rather passionate statement. One that Antonia most likely sees through….for both Leander and her know that there is one healer in particular that Leander cares for. One that may have just recently recovered from illness. One that, for now, Leander does not speak the name of.

—-

There is a slight change in her stance, as Antonia shifts her weight from one leg to the other, fingers tapping with a hint of impatience on an elbow when her arms remain crossed before her. The chin lifts just so, eyes brightening when Leander Giraldi states his business in the city. The non-committal smile remains on her features. "I am aware," she replies in an somewhat forced calm, "of what Rivanan alchemists achieved there. And now that you mention it, I do remember the name Giraldi appearing in those reports. Hmm…." Her head tilts a little, grey eyes remaining on Leander, and there a tightening of that smile of hers. "Forgive me then, if I mistook your visit to be for other reasons, than in aiding in our fight with the plague." Her tone remains neutral, but the flicker in her eyes betrays that conceding this to Leander Giraldi may not be quite to her liking - nor does it reflect her true thoughts. His bow she meets with a minimal incline of her head.

While Etienne, in all his youthful enthusiasm and obliviousness, cannot help but exclaim: "Then we owe you our thanks, my lord!" The twelve-year old l'Valdan lord beams, even if there may be a faint shadow lurking behind his cheerful demeanor. His eyes sweep to his mother. "Then it was through his doing, that auntie got well again?"

"Not his.", Antonia clarifies with a softness to her expression that is more due to the one addressed than the topic. "But his family's and those of that other… House Silva." When her gaze lifts to Leander it loses quite a bit of temperature. "Yes. Healers. It always holds a risk to tend those that are affected."

—-

Leander echoes the answer just given by the Princess to her son. “Yes. Regrettably, not through my direct actions, but through my family’s, which I support.” With that, he takes a knee, so that he is level with Etienne. “And you and your family do not owe me anything, Your Highness. Ensuring that the medicine arrives safely for those that need it is the least I can do for the kindness your aunt has shown me.” The eyes flicker upward, fleetingly, towards Antonia before returning to the young prince. “Though your aunt is rather fortunate, I would say, to have another person care for her so much as you do.” With that, Leander offers a slight bow of respect, just for Etienne alone, before shifting to stand upon his feet.

As he stands, Leander shifts to take in both the young prince and his royal mother. “I will admit, it gladdens the heart to hear that the lady Amara t’Tremaine is doing well. I was worried that sickness had overtaken her as she tended to others. It is pleasant to hear that, while she did fall ill, she was able to overcome it.” As Antonia would most surely hear, Leander’s words are carefully measured…selected to be as neutral as possible. And, yet, still a little of the respect (and affection?) that Leander has for the younger sister of the l’Valdan princess manages to seep through. “As much as I would like to visit with Lady Amara, I fear my duties as well as other extenuating circumstances seek to deny that opportunity.” There is no mention as to what the other opportunities are, but both knights, noble and royal, know what Leander is alluding to. He doesn’t want to annoy the older sibling.

—-

How reactions can differ to one such courteous gesture as Leander Giraldi’s bending a knee must appear to be. Whereas Etienne's demeanour brightens when he feels himself addressed on eye level, his mother's smile fades until it is but a mere ghost of one. Remaining silent, the l'Valdan princess observes with narrowing eyes, while her son displays all the youthful enthusiasm and lack of facade as is often found in a boy of his age.

"You know my aunt?", asks the young lord, excitement there in his tone as he regards the man of the Rivanan family of ennobled medicine merchants, in time with a faint downward twitch of Antonia's lips. The gaze she gives Leander should caution him. And indeed, measured words seem the wise route to go.

"A pity.", she says, in a tone that expresses little regret. "Duties and circumstances… They place demands upon us that must be followed." Falling silent, her grey eyes flicker a bit, as she lowers her gaze momentarily, glancing towards Etienne.

The blonde boy's eyes blink a little as he watches Leander rise to his feet, even if the overall friendly attitude stays in place. "She's fine again, yes. She was very sick, my lord," Etienne declares, with that emphasis to 'very' stretching into a drawl. "I've prayed to the One, that He would save her, which He did." Brows twitch upwards, due to a thought that suddenly crosses the young l'Valdan's mind. "Shall I pass on your greetings to her, my lord?"

Given Leander's attention rests on the boy, he might miss the half-step, Antonia makes towards her son, as if to stop him, lips already parting as if to say something. Words that will be doomed to remain unspoken. Instead she offers a hesitant nod, her arms once again crossed before her, grey eyes brighter than usual as they take in Leander's face and reaction.

—-

With his attention initially upon the young Prince, Leander did miss the smile fading from the expression of the l’Valdan. After all, he was on his knee, speaking to Etienne as an equal, which any age would appreciate. However, with him standing and thus able to take in both mother and son, the Rivanan does indeed catch the slight shift of Antonia catching herself. It is just a flicker of the eyes…just enough for those watching carefully to see that yes, Leander did pick that up and knows exactly why. Because he is so terrible, being a filthy Southerner. An unwelcomed visitor that has done nothing wrong.

And so, Leander continues his address to Etienne, keeping his demeanor charming, yet formal. “Oh, Your Highness, I wouldn’t dream of causing you such an imposition as relaying the greetings of one such as I. There is no need to trouble yourself so, though I am indeed grateful for the offer. Should the One decide to grace the Lady Amara t’Tremaine and I with a chance meeting, then I am sure He will provide.” Then, with a smile that seems to be sincere, Leander opens his arms, indicating both Etienne and Antonia. “After all, He has made this possible, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Who’s to say that I may not yet offer my greetings in person?” Then, with a glance towards Antonia and a shift of the smile that appears more sober, the Rivanan knight continues. “Yet, Her Highness is correct. Duties and circumstances are rather demanding. Protocol must certainly be followed. If circumstances dictate that I, Sir Leander Giraldi, must remain diligent to my post and my preordained duties, then I shall.”

Then, with a sly little glance back to Etienne, Leander tips the boy a wink. “Which is why it’s best to finish our duties ahead of time. Leave more time for adventure.” It’s just a small aside, almost conspiratorially delivered, but given playfully. And…loud enough for Antonia to hear. A harmless statement that the princess will surely find some fault in.

—-

Etienne's concern and offer was genuine, as becomes apparent when Leander moves to stand, and the grey eyes of the boy lift, his gaze still lingering on the Rivanan noble. His way of address causes some awkwardness, and Antonia's son scratches himself behind the ear, a quick glance exchanged with his mother, whose mien is unmoving, observant and utterly the facade of a woman of court.

"I'm no highness, my lord," the boy clarifies, his high voice ringing with a clarity over to where Leander stands. "As nephew to the king, I hold the title of a lord. Nothing more." A beat. "I wouldn't… feel it out of place to tell Auntie… You say you know her… you say you were concerned for her…" His gaze finds once again that of the mother, Etienne's mouth closes. A simple reaction to the faint tightening of Antonia's pale grey eyes.

It may not be coincidence, that the Falcon takes up where Etienne left off, and offers her own reply to Leander's musings.

"I am so glad you understand," Antonia l'Valdan states with a thin smile. "Protocol. And… let us not forget Amara is still recovering. She may not yet be ready to…" - the corners of her lips twitch slightly - "receive visitors." Such statement earns her a slightly surprised glance from the boy at her side.

Antonia considers Leander, and where her smile lacks expression, her eyes are all the more revealing; showing a sentiment somewhere between being fascinated and appalled by his boldness. His charming manner, she notes, but meets it with a chill that has been ingrained into her very being since earliest childhood.

And where Etienne's demeanor lights up with pleasant mirth at Leander's words about duties and adventure, his mother's expression couldn't be more different: expression hardening into a cast of non-committal politeness and her gaze showing she would definitely disapprove, of any possible adventures Leander Giraldi may hope for.

“Oh, then please forgive me, gentle Lord. With such manners and bearing, I thought of you as nothing less than royalty. A Prince in word and deed, if not in station.” Sincerity is prevalent in Leander’s apology. He is certainly charmed by Etienne, that is for sure. Then, the attention shifts from the son to the mother, and Leander’s disposition shifts, ever so slightly, to be more serious, if possible. He has not forgotten who he is speaking with…nor the amount of guards at the Princess’s beck and call. “I…do know your aunt, my lord. And I am concerned for her…” A subtle switch from past tense to present. Leander has his own pause…as he regards the unspoken exchange between the two l’Valdans. Then he speaks. Perhaps the five words Antonia least expected to hear.

“Though, your mother is right.”

Leander shifts, devoting his entire attention to Antonia. “Yes, Your Highness. Protocol, indeed. I would not want to place the Lady Amara into an uncomfortable situation. I will leave it to you, Princess, to decide when Amara is well enough to receive the greetings I would have offered this day.” As the words leave his lips, Leander nods to Antonia, the unspoken exchange clear. Amara will not find out about this chance encounter…not from Antonia, at the very least. “I know that you are looking out for the welfare of your sister, Your Highness, to ensure she is well and sound and happy. And that is all I could hope for.” Perhaps a peace offering? That last statement was given plainly…as plainly as Leander has ever been. He doesn’t fault the princess’s intentions…he never did.

Though, with the slight smile that curls the corners of his mouth, Leander might find a little fault in the venomous dislike. Just a little.

But that smile is fleeting, as Leander steps to the side. “Oh, but please do not let me keep you all from your day! As always, Your Highness, it has been a pleasure.” Spoken with tongue firmly in cheek. “And, should the One find it pleasing to Him that we shall meet again, may it be under joyous circumstances. Until then, may He bless us and guide us all as to His will.” With that, the knight offers one more bow, remaining to the side to allow the royal retinue full access to continue on.

—-

Leander's admission takes the l'Valdan princess indeed by surprise. Her brows twitch upwards as she exhales, lips curving more for a moment, before her expression returns to that of minimal polite courtesy.

"I am glad," Antonia declares then, "that you agree to my reasoning." Her head she inclines in a nod. And yes, perhaps her eyes glitter for a moment with the passion of someone who loves her sister dearly and wishes nothing but the best for her.

When Leander Giraldi steps aside to allow them to continue on their market stroll, Antonia gestures for her retainers to catch up with them, before she reclaims the hand of her son, and offers in passing a "You mean, under more joyous circumstances, than those that follow a plague?" The question posed lightly, and perhaps not even expecting a reply.

Etienne follows along, his gaze lowered. Even if he does pause when beside the Giraldi. Pale grey eyes lift to regard the Rivanan, and Leander might catch a bit of bewilderment as well as mischief in the young boy's expression. A faint nod there, perhaps in goodbye, or perhaps to seal an unspoken agreement, before Lord Etienne l'Valdan continues on. A single glance shot back over his shoulder, before they vanish between stands, merchants and the bustle of the Mercat district

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