2002 (OOC) -->
De Bellefeuille Manor, Master Bedroom
A spacious room richly appointed, dominated by a large canopy bed with drawn curtains of white lace and a light blue bed spread. A carpet of sea blue covers most of the floor, while the rest is polished white tile. The wood-paneled walls have similarly been painted in blue with white trim, while an antique white vanity set and matching dresser line one wall. A divan and a small chair complete the room's furnishings.
The Lady Elise de Bellefeuille stands before an extensive wardrobe, containing articles of clothing that she has, in point of fact, never actually worn and doesn't even remember purchasing. As she contemplates this array, her eyes darting longingly to the selection of well-used Temple uniform robes, her sister stands in the doorway, only her head inside the room, having just asked a question.
"I might. He said I'd like it maybe I ought to wear armor as well," answers the elder sister. She turns away from her wardrobe and grins at her sister. "Not unless a better idea strikes me out of the blue."
Katherine twitches her nose. "Elise. Do you like this man?" she asks, her tone unusually forthright.
"In a manner of speaking," answers Elise vaguely. After limping a step to turn around and face her sister more fully she leans against the side of her armoire and shifts her weight off her right leg.
"What does that mean?" Katherine asks. "What kind of game are you playing with him?"
"You said it yourself my sister. Why would he court me? What ever do I have?" The elder poodle raises an eyebrow. She lifts a hand to begin deliberately counting. "Why "I'm a heiress to a fortune" and "come from a good bloodline" and I'm also a soldier. It's more vague now but the risk is the same. I'm curious if he really does have an interest or if he's simply putting on a good face until I'm cold in my grave and my fortune is his. But quite frankly, sister, you're right in another thing: he may be all the chance I get. So I've been testing him. But," she shakes her head, "… , perhaps I should give him the benefit of the doubt. There are arrangements I could make regardless. Do I like him? Yes. Do I trust him? I'm not sure yet. But he's doing a good job trying to get that trust."
The other poodle rests her hand against the doorframe. "Yes," she says. "You could wear your armor and an old Temple robe, and claim that when he drops you it's because he doesn't like the 'real you.' But he's a diplomat, Elise. Can he afford a wife who has so little judgment as to wear such a thing to a formal dinner?" Katherine lifts her head. "And is that the 'real you' in any case? I have seen you fuss over clothing before, and enjoy it as much as I do, whether you want to admit it or not. You're not showing him who you are. You're putting on a mask and hoping it'll chase him away."
Expression unreadable, Elise stares at her sister for a long moment in silence. Finally she twitches her shoulders and gives a flatly conceding bark of "Right." She chews her lip for a moment and follows up with, "Come here and help me then. Mask or no I really don't have a beggar's chance in Darkness to guess what's the fashion these days."
Katherine gives a quiet smile. "You needn't wear the latest trend anyway. The stuff designers put out at the beginning of the season was so dreadful even the debutantes have already abandoned it. Here," she continues, joining Elise. "There's a very nice dress I ordered you for last New Year's, and you never wore it because you weren't home in time for that party, after all … "
Early this time Elise decides to bite her tongue and let the fussing ride. She's heard the arguments for her being home on holidays. "You know," she begins in a tired voice as she tries to angle the conversation away from talks of being home, "it's different now." She pushes off from the armoire and shifts her weight back on her cane before limping towards her walk in closet. "Everything," she waves her hand vaguely, "it's like it isn't real. I come home, I go to these parties, and I can't fathom it. There world is very different outside the Noble Quarter."
"Isn't that the point?" Katherine says, rifling through the wardrobe. "This is it." She pulls out a dress of gathered silk in deepest indigo, skirt slit to show a spray of paler lace underneath it, a matching scarf draped over the top of the hanger.
"I had no idea this was here. Or that," she points at a deep blue dress, "for that matter. Next thing I know I'll be returning to find a camp of refugee Savanite seamstresses in here." While giving her sister another grin, this one teasing, she reaches over and picks the indigo dress up by the hangar. "It's nice," she says appreciatively. "It matches my personal secretary, too."
"Well. Her eyes, I suppose," Katherine concedes. "Some of this Mother got you and you never wore. That yellow dress," she says, pointing to an informal frock stuffed near the back. And that green velvet one. That blue one … " she scrutinizes it. "I think you bought that two years ago for Midsummer's."
"Did I?" The elder poodle eyes the blue dress again. "Oh. Yes. I see that I did, didn't I. Well other concerns come and go. You know how it is I'm sure." Elise straightens and presses the dress against her front to try and gauge how it might look on her. As she does she mentions, "Speaking of Indigo I've been thinking of giving her the Orphanage to handle. She doesn't need to be here. I hardly need a personal secretary at this time and you seem to do very well with Tremaine."
The dress drapes against her short fur, soft and sensual. Precious stones nestle down the front of the dress, gathering the folds of cloth over the bosom and to it, while the top of off-shoulder sleeves drape over the tight cuffs from the elbow down. It looks as though it would fit snugly but well; perhaps a little low-cut in front. "The orphanage? Oh! Yes, you'd mentioned that before, hadn't you? You never did settle on details. Perhaps Indigo would be right for the job."
"She has to be bored here. It's not as if I need a personal secretary these days. Rinaldo wasn't exactly going to schedule an appointment," says Elise. She regards the indigo dress again biting her lip this time and then nods slightly. "It's fine. A bit low cut, but I'm older now." She raises an eyebrow and looks to her sister questioningly. "I can bring my cane? Call me what you will but I feel better with a sword in hand. Even if it's concealed. And I'll need something to lean on anyway. Lord Jean Dunbarre hardly counts."
Katherine giggles. "Oh, Elise, he may be a little fop but he's strong enough to lean on. At the Landing Day party I saw him assist a, shall we say, tipsy Lady Blanche herr Fordeile back to her carriage, and you know what a young heifer she is!" The younger poodle titters again. "He staggered a bit, I'll give you, but he managed it."
The elder poodle gives a bark of laugher at the imagery. "His poor, poor lordship. You would laugh if you understood how good of a diplomat he really is. At the de Medici party on … ah … Ring Day he managed to look simply enchanted by the 398 varieties of water-lily. But anyway I should get ready before he wonders if I haven't been snatched up by another one of my missions."
"Oh … water lilies. And di Medici. My word. He is good," Katherine says. "I feigned illness the last time young Lord Alain cornered me at a party. Anyway I'll go get my maid, she can fix your hair."
An open chaise, adorned by the crest of the Dunbarres, and borne by sets of six mahogany rakhtors before and behind it, lights in the driveway of Bellefeuille manor. The coachman, a uniformed Korv, leaps lithely from the driver's seat to open the passenger's door. Jean Dunbarre, impeccably dressed in a black frock coat with trim of smoke-grey satin. Wine-red lace accents the throat and cuffs, and he carries a silver-handled cane in his right hand. The overall effect is formal, though more subdued than his usual attire. He ascends the steps to the manor's front door, and raps lightly on it with the handle of his cane.
The butler greets him at the door, and shows him to the parlor, assuring him that the mistress of the house will be down shortly. Dunbarre declines refreshment, and settles onto a chair to wait.
A few minutes later, the lady of the manor enters the parlor, wearing a dress of deep purple-blue silk that gathers snugly across the bodice toward a central stay, embroidered and bejeweled, that runs down the chest and abdomen. It dives into a deep v around her slender hips, below which the fabric blouses out, slit along the right side to reveal an underskirt of pale lace in the same hue. The snug bodice reveals the smooth white fur of her collarbone and shoulders, while the voluminous sleeves drape over her biceps, dangling over silver, diamond-studded bracelets on her wrists. A matching choker circles her neck, and a similar decorative comb pins her long, curly hair into a cascade over her right shoulder.
As the lady of the manor enters she beams a smile at the man waiting for her and extends her hand for him to rise and kiss. "I trust your lordship has not been waiting too long?" The words come only with a slight hesitance. It has been a while since she last dressed so well or tried to sound so like a lady and less like a solider. She finds the ways of the lady coming back to her if slowly and she cannot help but feel a tad nervous. Even uncomfortable.
Lord Dunbarre stood upon Elise's entrance, dropping a courtly bow to her even as she spoke. As he straightens from the bow, he looks at her and his flawless manners falter. His mouth opens as if to answer her, but he doesn't say anything. He gazes at her for a long moment, and then suddenly he blinks a couple of times, as if rousing himself from a spell. "No no, not at all." He almost stammers. Belatedly, he finishes straightening his posture.
The lady watches him stammer with a amused and tightly controlled grin on her face. She gives a slight curtsey and then folds her hands atop her black ironwood cane. "Then I trust you are quite ready?" She cocks her head to the side slightly as she further regards him. It's been even longer since she impressed anyone with how she looks in a form that drew flattery rather than fear.
"I am at my lady's pleasure," the lord answers, giving another bow and regaining his aplomb. He offers her his arm.
Accepting the lord's arm Elise falls in to stand beside the other poodle. She shifts her cane to her right hand and as she does so she briefly catches her reflection in the glass of an old picture frame. She does have to concede her sister being right in yet another matter. When she tries she really can look nice.
The chaise carries the pair to the underside of the sky island, where the rakhtors light on the landing of a multi-tiered, gilded palace. It reminds Elise of the Jade Palace, but as much in the way that is not imitating the specific architecture and design of that ill-fated estate, as in the grandeur and elegance that it does possess. After they disembark, servants whisk the vehicle away, while a fetching collie woman in a formal gown with a vaguely uniform air to it meets them. "Welcome to the Sky's Delight, my lord, my lady," she greets them, curtseying deeply. "All has been prepared as you requested, Lord Dunbarre," she assures the poodle, leading them inside.
They descend a few flights of private, red-carpeted steps, with the collie leading the way. She opens wide the double doors at the bottom, and drops to one side with a low curtsey, so that the two guests may enter.
A Room with a View
The floor of the chamber is entirely transparent, almost invisible, were it not for the faint reflections of the furnishings in its surface. Miles below, the rolling waves of the Stygian Sea lap at the horizon, deep blue and kissed by the golden light of the setting sun. The walls, like the floor, are translucent, offering no obstruction to the breathtaking view. Crystal chandeliers, spell-lit, glitter like the Procession against a velvet-black ceiling engraved with the designs of a highly stylized astrologer's diagram. All around the room, fresh-cut roses float in small clear bowls on the floor, nestled among drifting candles, making the chamber a miniature sky garden set against the backdrop of the world. A single table for two, draped with a white lace cloth, set with fine china and a single long-stemmed red rose in a vase, waits at the center of the chamber.
Almost forgetting herself the lady almost gapes. If the discovery she had such finery in her own closet wasn't shocking enough the realization a place like this exists outside her dreams be they magically induced or otherwise is plain astonishing. The de Medici estate seemed unreal but this, this eclipses that place that for a long time after Elise would have trouble describing it to her satisfaction. It is all she can do to try and retain a dignified expression. She hopes her escort isn't as stunned as she or they might never enter.
Lord Dunbarre scans the chamber briefly, but his eyes are more for her than for their surroundings. He has a little smile on his face, hopeful, and pleased. He pats her fingers lightly where they rest in the crook of his left arm, escorting her into the room. They glide into space amid a sea of flowers and soft candlelight. They might be alone in the universe. "My lady," he says, his voice hushed in the silence, "what do you think?"
"Oh," Elise begins to reply, startled. "I." She glances around and blinks several times. "It- it's wonderful. Truly." She inhales and gives a soft sigh and shakes her head to clear it prior to smiling at the man and curtseying. "Thank you for inviting me." Something in the tone of her voice hints at apology.
Dunbarre's pleased smile expands, his tail even wagging. They finish descending a short flight of transparent stairs to the floor, and when they reach the table, he holds out a chair for her. "It is I who am honored by your acceptance," he demurs. The doors close noiselessly behind them. "I was, I will confess, a trifle worried that you would not enjoy a surprise."
The lady accepts the seat and places her cane neatly against her chair. Were it purely an aesthetic accessory she might have placed it aside elsewhere but as it is she really does need it. "It reminds me of a dream I had. But without the worries, and without that dire sting of a nightmare," she admits. The lady takes another look down at the ocean below and shakes her head. "It certainly is peaceful. Like another place and time. All of creation to ourselves."
After rounding the table to take his own seat, Dunbarre nods. "This chamber was just completed a short while ago. As soon as I saw it, I thought of you. Parties and crowds forgive me for saying so do not seem to be quite your natural environment." He smiles a little again.
Elise chuckles softly at the comment. "No," she admits, "I'm a bit too set in my own ways to settle well in a crowd. When one travels like I do one begins to see the inconsistencies in people here," she waves her hand above, "and below." Another similar gesture to mean the lands that rest beneath the sky. "I admit sometimes I am, ungrateful as it may sound, irritated. But are they not who I protect?" She gives the lord another smile. "Perhaps I should learn to be less judgmental."
Dunbarre shifts his shoulders. "Ah, Rephidim is full of people who will hesitate to make any judgment that might adversely impact their wallet or their social standing. I don't imagine you'd be happy to count yourself among those."
"As I depend less and less on my own fortune and more upon what little I have while away this difficulty becomes more apparent. Yes. I don't find that I fit well with a majority of the nobility. I understand the desire for an idle life style though I have since grown uncomfortable with it." She taps her cane lightly. "But I cannot fight forever now can I? Eventually I will need to come home for good." An eyebrow rises. "At least I can hope it is for "good". Therefore, as I say, I should learn to be less judgmental."
Her companion nods to the point. "True, my lady. Though I should hope that Rephidim can find a place in her heart for the occasional misfit who dares to speak the truth, and not just cheerful platitudes." As they talk, bowls of light, clear soup are set before them, scenting the air with fragrant spice. The red wine fills the glasses, all done by a servant so quiet and unobtrusive that Elise is barely aware of his presence, noticing him only just enough to know that mortal hands, and not magic, serve the food.
"Well. Here's to the people who support the social misfit." The lady raises her glass.
He lifts her glass to clink it against hers. "To those who support us all, m'lady."
As the crystal glasses resound with the vibration the lady finds herself relaxed. A tenseness that was in her shoulders has since eased and she truly doesn't feel out of place. She's having a good time. "This is nice," she says putting her thought to words. "Really. It's hard to imagine where we were several turns of the holidays back."
Lord Dunbarre has the grace to look wry. "I think there is no need to look that far back, my lady. Not one of my finer moments, I'm afraid." After a taste of the wine, he sips at his soup.
Smirking the woman inclines her head to the point. "I don't fault you for it if you ever wonder. A superior has to keep the reins of leadership if they are to be effective. Beyond that I find it amusing look where we have come." She tries a sip of the soup as well as she finishes speaking. Given the elegance of this place she can only wonder what sort of delight it will be. But she is certain it will be a delight.
The soup has the flavor of Bromthen Hog mixed with truffles, and spices harder to place. Thin and light, it complements the subtle, fruity taste of the wine. "I am grateful to entertain you, in however odd a manner," Dunbarre comments, flashing a grin. "For myself, I am happy to reflect on the 'now.' How do things fare with you lately? I hope your most recent adventures have not been too hazardous?"
Elise decides she likes the soup. "Well," she begins, "Rinaldo went poorly. I botched catching him in the market out of concern for, oh, rectifying his situation in front of so many foreign nobles. It didn't believe at the time it would have reflected well on our department. Our funding does come from somewhere after all. As for that bit of blackmail that went much more smoothly. You may hear something about that someday. But I imagine you're familiar with such … value judgment."
The poodle lord savors his soup as Elise finishes speaking, then takes another sip of wine. After swallowing, he says, "I had heard about the Rinaldo matter. I thought your judgment excellent, in point of fact. It is one matter for Rephidim to declare her right to dispose of her enemies anywhere, at any time. It is quite another matter to do so in the most public and conspicuous of manners. It's like … " He pauses, reflecting, before continuing, "persuading Caroban they ought to feel a filial obligation to Rephidim. It's not effective." He takes another sip, then finishes, "Besides. You disposed of him later, and that is what matters most."
"With Kaalaas's help," corrects Elise. "I am trying to improve my how I review these matters. I'll admit that sometimes these things can be more personal than is professionally healthy. But that is why I chose this career amongst other reasons. And I'm not one to not agree one should enjoy their work. Even mine." She takes another sip and reflects. "It can be grim. There's a matter of detachment involved as well. And balance. How much to invest emotionally in these matters. As a politician I'm sure you know how it can be. Our careers may be physically different but not all that dissimilar in the politics. We both must judge, understand, and weigh. Though my goals are more narrow than your own."
With another smile, Dunbarre answers, "Indeed. I would be ill-suited to your career, I fear, but I am not without envy for you. I have confronted more than one problem that I would love to have solved with just one swift sword-stroke." He mock-stabs at the air with his table knife for emphasis.
The lady laughs at that so much she has to put down her spoon and cover her muzzle. When she manages to calm herself she shakes her head mildly. "Were it only so simple! Rarely is anything solved to its conclusion by a swift sword-stroke as you say. You kill one and their friends want revenge. Never mind what their friend did, no, it's blood for blood. A death can sometimes complicate matters more than solve them. And if you kill someone big," she gives the man look, "it can haunt you forever."
Dunbarre offers her a wry smile. "Ah, alas, I know that only too well. But your duty is not to debate the merits, but merely to undertake a course of action. Or at least, so I am told. But I suppose everyone's job looks easier to an outsider. After all, anyone could tell you that my sole function in life is to wear fine clothes, attend parties, and make idle chatter. I have the easiest career in the world." He winks.
Again the lady laughs. "I might have thought so long ago. That would have been up till that cork sailed behind the cabinet." She smiles. "But you're right for the most part. It isn't for me to think of why. Just to succeed. Thinking of why brings other pains. I thought during my first mission I could have saved that girl, but," she shakes her head sadly, "it never happened. If you let that get to you you'll be unable to do anything at all. Guilt I imagine is one of our agents' top enemies."
At some point, the wineglasses have been refilled, and the emptied bowls whisked away, replaced by plates of wafer-thin slices of lean red meat, warm but cooked rare, still dripping with their own juices. Dunbarre sets the knife with which he had stabbed the air to slicing his food. He looks thoughtful, sober, a curious contrast to his normally effete and cheerful manner.
With Lord Dunbarre having grown quiet and the main dish having arrived Elise puts off conversation for later and sets to her own meal. Having discovered her fancy for the soup she is eager to try the meats. Always pleased with a fine filet the poodle woman wonders if her escort hasn't had been investigating her tastes. Thus far the meal has been everything she would have asked for.
Spices and flavorings have been kept to a minimum in this dish, but nonetheless it manages to taste exotic a superbly fine cut from an Abaddon hog, perhaps. The simplicity of the main dish follows nicely after the subtle complexity of the soup, while the single wine ties it together.
The meal is everything she expected it would be. Elegant, balanced, and well thought out. Much like this place and indeed the lady thinks much like the man she is with. Apparently simple but with true complexity subtle and deep. She muses on this day as she proceeds through her meal.
Conversation through the main course is sporadic, as the two quietly enjoy the food and company instead. As the food remaining on their plates dwindles, they turn back to the subject of the Temple. Elise touches on the subject of the previous investigation of her by the Inquisition, and the support Dunbarre showed her during it. He waves a hand dismissively. "You were not the first, nor, I fear, the last, innocent person the Inquisition has suspected. I should be a fool if I let mere suspicions decide my loyalties. In fact … " He sighs, quietly. "Recently, I've found another of my friends on the wrong side of an investigation."
"Oh?" prompts the lady poodle as she sets down her fork and folds her hands in her lap. "Go on. What's troubling you? Not my department is it? Though, well, I imagine attention from us would do more than trouble."
"Not with the Executors, no, thankfully." He smiles quickly. "My friend's troubles have not progressed that far. I believe the individual in charge of his investigation is Inquisitor Toraine; do you know, I'm not sure who his Arch Inquisitor is? I suppose I should look into it. It's a bad business … worse than yours, I'm afraid. My friend is Valiant de Onfroi; he's been accused of killing a Temple Priest. I don't know if you've heard about it or not."
"I'm afraid I hear very little despite being a Templar. We get our relevant information and go. My Arch Inquisitor isn't one for rumor mongering. At least he has never shared with me. But that's part of why I like him. All business." She smiles slightly but allows her expression to shift back to sober and concerned in short order. Murder of a priest is nothing to joke around to her mind. "I haven't heard of it. Or Toraine for that matter. You'll have to enlighten me."
"Well, and I don't suppose this helps much, but the priest in question was " Dunbarre pauses, glancing about the empty room, then continues " First Ones forgive me, but he was an idiot. You'll recall some years back, when there was a movement in the Temple to 'purify' it, and Rephidim, of 'unbelievers' and Star-worshippers?"
Elise nods grimly. "I had the misfortune of being duped in to being part of that as a cadet. But go on," she answers.
"This man was a big supporter of that action. To be honest, it rather surprised me that the Captain-Astromancer didn't dislodge him during the purge after his rescue." Dunbarre shrugs. "In any event, he was not well-liked, even among the other priests. He rarely gave sermons, which is just as well as he was a mumbler and had a tendency to ramble pointlessly. I'd rather here Alain di Medici talk about flowers than Priest Paien discuss religion." The poodle lord makes a face. "But it hardly behooves me to speak ill of the dead, so I'd best stop now. It's simply rather upsetting for me. Bad enough that Onfroi should be questioned, but questioned for the murder of this well, I said I would stop.
"In any case, it seems that Inquisitor Toraine has taken it into his head that Onfroi must be involved in the killing, because his wife was a Star-worshipper and Priest Paien had her fired from Temple service several years ago. Never mind that Onfroi himself has always been a faithful servant of the First Ones. There's no real evidence against Onfroi. A couple of witnesses place him at the same section of the Temple as Paien at the time of his murder. Not much to build a case on," Dunbarre finishes. He stirs his remaining slice of meat around on his plate.
"That is unfortunate," agrees the lady. She lifts her glass and takes another sip as she thinks on the matter, offering shortly after, "Couldn't you … oh, talk to someone about this?" She is fully sure Lord Dunbarre knows exactly who that someone is.
Dunbarre gives her a disarming look, batting his lashes over black eyes. "Why, I thought I was speaking with someone about this?" he says, ingenuously.
The lady eyes the lord with a most unconvincing reproachful cock of the head. "You know what I mean." She watches him for a second studying his face and trying to read him. "Unless, of course, well. You are talking to someone." She raises a brow. "So go on."
"In honesty," he says, managing to sound apologetic, "I was only thinking aloud. I am hoping the situation will go no farther than Toraine's little investigation. My cousin, for reasons unknown to me, was fond of Priest Paien and is intent on seeing his killer apprehended. Which is fine with me. It just happens that Onfroi is not his killer. But, alas, no one is taking my word for it." He pouts.
Elise frowns when Lord Dunbarre mentions her cousin happens to have a personal interest in the matter. It would be one thing to assist in this if his cousin had no concern, or was also concerned, but another if his cousin might disapprove of any sort of interference. "You think it may develop to the point where we become involved?" asks the lady.
"Also," adds Elise, "are you entirely sure he isn't guilty? Or, well, hasn't offended anyone regardless?"
"I hope not." Dunbarre looks abashed, and waves a hand dismissively. "Forget it, my lady. It is only an investigation. If the First Ones guide Inquisitor Toraine, my friend will be exonerated, they can capture whomever did kill the priest, and that will be the end of it." He smiles. "Nothing in it to ruin a perfectly fine meal over."
The lady nods. "Of course not but let it not be said that I don't worry for you. I know how investigations can be." Offering him an encouraging smile she takes another sip of wine before continuing, asking, "Any news of note? That wasn't the only topic I hadn't been aware of. Though I heard quite enough of the new Knights to last me." She grimaces briefly.
Jean Dunbarre quirks an eyebrow curiously at the mention of the knights, but he does not press the issue. "There's talk of trouble in Babel, as always, though there's a new twist some group of bats who want Rephidim to come and straighten their hapless city out, if you can imagine that. I wouldn't lay odds on anything coming of it, of course." By now, the main course dishes have been cleared away, along with the wineglasses. Dishes of fresh iced pala fruit, drizzled in xocholatl, replace them before the diners, complemented by a new light, crisp wine, refreshing in contrast to the sweet fruit.
"Babel? Ruled be Rephidim?" Despite herself the lady snorts a laugh. "That will be the day. They can't even stop worshipping that which ails them. And half the time they're either too suspicious, too hateful, or too beaten to recognize that which helps them either. I tell you I feel sorry for them. But I never think Rephidim would or should rule Babel. It would be an incredible disaster." She chuckles some more at the idea while shaking her head. At which point she notices the deserts and her eyes wide shortly before she shoots her escort a look and a smirk.
Dunbarre shares her mirth over the political situation, then turns his spoon to slice off a section of pala fruit to devour. He appears to completely miss her smirk in the process.
The lady gathers up her spoon and uses the edge to slice a bit in half which she promptly tastes. Indeed it's as good as she remembers. Better in fact for even when her parents were alive they never dinned this well. It's a consuming delight which makes continued conversation that much more difficult for the distraction. "I'll be off on another mission soon," she mentions in between bites. "I'm not sure where I'm going and it's just as well that you don't know. But if you'd like to call on me again you are more than welcome to. It's rare that I get out when I'm not off and I confess after tonight I may start to miss it."
"Will you?" Dunbarre's expression turns wistful. "Then I will have to take my chance while I may, and be grateful that you are willing to share with me some of your rare hours on Rephidim. And who knows when the Temple will next be packing me off? I suppose I shan't be so lucky as to be shipped off somewhere with you again."
The lady grins at that. "That would be quite the trick," she teases. "I can't imagine what sort of heavy-handed diplomacy as would require an Executor, "Oh terribly sorry but you see you simply must agree to our trade terms or it shall be you whom we ship off to foreign lands. Several at once"." Or even stranger a Ambassador on one of my missions. "The ambassador … " She clears her throat and speaks in her teasingly official stateswoman voice. "… would like to discuss execution terms. In an exchange for your head he is prepared to discuss burial rite privileges." Another bit of laugher and she takes another bite of her quickly emptying dessert dish.
"I don't know," the lord says. "I rather like the sound of that first idea."