|Summary:||Leoline makes friends with a girl who keeps a razor handy.|
|Related Logs:||Of Soup and and Strangers|
|Marketplace and Sept Garden in Terrick's Roost|
|Residents of the town and surrounding area bring their wares to sell here among small tables built upon the slate grey stone flooring of the outdoor expanse. The area is surrounded by thatched roof buildings and shops on all sides with roads and paths winding their way in and out of this thriving part of town. Most of the commercial capacity of Terrick's Roost can be found here with the storefronts attracting the attention of those among all classes.|
|19 September 288|
The marketplace is not an especially handy place to be unless one has coin to spend or goods to barter. A Begging Brother has neither though he can, perhaps, use the currency of human sympathy (or human guilt) to gain a morsel to eat or a copper for his pocket. So it is that the short-statured, brown-clad young septon-of-the-road finds himself leaning lazily up against the back wall of a thatched-roof building, tall walking stick propped up beside him, and a sticky confection of flaky pastry held in one hand. He chews thoughtfully as he observes the bustle of the crowd, fingers of his free hand lifting now and again to brush sugar away from what might be a mustache, someday, with a few more weeks' growth.
Then there are those with coin to spend a-plenty, even if precious little of it's their own. Belle has been in the market since just before the merchants opened their stalls, purchasing a wide, whimsical — occasionally inexplicable — variety of goods for her mistress. Her list nearly completed, she's simply browsing now, drawn to a booth of more exotic goods near the breakfasting brother. She leans in to breathe the aroma of coffee beans and exotic tea, tiny vials of scented oil, dried bunches of rare herbs. One of the latter samplings tickles her nose a bit, prompting her to turn away quickly, covering her nose and mouth for a tiny, yip-squeak of a sneeze.
A small lithe young woman with a large basket and a sensitive nose isn't something the begging brother can easily miss, and the corners of his mouth hitch upwards for the very small sneeze. "That can't be natural," he surmises before pausing to suck a bit of glaze from his thumb. "You must have practiced a sneeze like that."
Big blue eyes turn a startled gaze on the septon, the face that frames them blushing as she laughs. She shakes her head, smiling and abashed. "Alas, no. I'm afraid it's always been thus. But I must say that I'm impressed with the animal control in Terrick's Roost. Normally, my sneeze summons every bitch seeking her puppies for leagues." She sniffs delicately. "But shouldn't you bless me, or something? Really, what manner of septon are you?"
"One with sticky fingers," the septon points out, lifting up his hand and wiggling those fingers, still gummy with the sweetness of the pastry. "I thought a fine Miss such as yourself, clearly on an important buying spree for a likely impatient Lady, might not appreciate goo on her dress. But here, I shall do my best to channel the Seven from a distance." He clears his throat, his expression becoming solemn as his head bows so he can peer up at her. "The gods each bless you, my child, and your dog-summoning sneeze."
The fine miss in question does her best not to appear utterly charmed, pressing her lips together, though her eyes dance and her dimples are deep. "That's better," she says, nodding. "May They similarly bless you, septon, your sticky fingers, and your aspiring mustache." She bites the inside of her cheek to contain a bubble of giddy mirth.
"My what?" he asks, fingers touching his upper lip. "Oh," he huffs a soft laugh. "It's aspiring without permission, gall of the thing. No manners at all." He pops the last of the pastry into his mouth, chewing and swallowing before sucking the last of the sweet stickiness from his fingertips. "And what does the sneezing Miss have i her heavy bags, this morning?"
"Secrets," replies the miss, looking positively mischievous. "All manner of secrets. And, as everyone knows, secrets can be a very heavy burden." She looks him over, considering. "So let's strike a deal, then. You carry my basket of astonishment and mystery for a bit, and I'll take care of that rogue mustache for you. You look as though you could use a little barbering."
His brows lift and the young man smiles, delightedly, at that. "Secrets," he repeats. "You are in very great luck. Secrets happen to be a specialty of mine. I am a rarefied collector." He holds a hand out for the basket of wonders, smirking a little as his would-be mustache gets brought up again. "Thank you, I'm no use at doing it myself." As one can plainly see.
"I've bet myself that little olyphant there," says she with the Basket of Secrets, handing the big wicker thing over and indicating a tiny elephant amidst a menagerie of cleverly carved and painted figures, "that you're actually pleasing to look at under all the scruff." She flashes a smile and turns in a sweep of heavy silk, vanilla and amber. "Where shall we go, then? Are you staying at the sept?"
The man makes a soft offended sound. "It only enhances my rugged physique," he corrects, accepting the basket with a small grunt. "A heavy burden, indeed," he murmurs. "I suppose I am staying at the sept, more or less. I don't think Septon Josse is the sort to much mind if a little grooming goes on under his roof. The gods have been witness to much worse things."
"Oh, Josse won't mind," says the miss, sweeping her long, hoydenish mane back over her shoulder. "He's exquisitely generous and darling. I do love a man with a stealthy sense of humor." She leads off septward, then. "Oh! Do you have a name?"
"Yes, I tuck it away in my pocket for safekeeping," the wandering septon says as collects his walking stick and trails after the pretty, blonde girl. "Do you?"
"I do!" she exclaims with delight, as though this were something unexpected they have in common. "Alas, I have so few pockets, I'm forever misplacing it." She sidelongs a mirthful glance at him. "Are you inviting me to search your pockets, septon? How ribald and profane!" She tsks.
"Only if you're inviting me to search your basket, kind miss," the septon replies with another bright smile. "I am a man fond of a good barter."
She bursts into a peal of bright laughter, grinning helplessly as she shakes her head. "My, you are a cad. I'm afraid I don't barter my basket, sweet septon. The way to a lady's basket is her most closely guarded secret." She dances up the steps to the sept and opens one of the double doors, holding it for her burdened companion. "We'll just grab a stool and set up in the garden, then, where we won't make too much of a mess."
"And I have already mentioned my fondness for secrets," the begging brother points out around his own bemused smile. His free hand offers the basket on his arm a fond pat-pat as he follows the girl into the sept. "Maybe hair cuttings will grow something if planted in the ground. It might explain why peaches are so fuzzy."
"Just put the basket over by the Stranger's shrine," says the miss. "He'll look after it. What's in there's meant for Him, anyway. I'll go fetch a bowl and water, you find a stool, and I'll meet you in the garden." A creature of ruthless efficiency, this handmaid — and off she goes.
"Well, if that's the case, then perhaps I am allowed a little peek," the septon murmurs as the girl heads off. The basket and his walking stick are set down before the stranger, and Leoline crouches down to poke quickly through it before he heads into the kitchen to fetch a stool and make his way out into the fragrant gardens.
Truth be told, there's nothing too remarkable in the basket — at least, if there is, the significance of it is likely apparent only to the Stranger and the handmaid herself. Incense and candles and tea, herbs and ungents, a few books — history and ancient treatises on politics — a carefully wrapped set of cyvasse pieces carved from bloodstone and dragon bone which must have cost a small fortune. Parchment, fine ink, scented oils… and in the very bottom, a set of fine blades means for throwing, along with a bag of round, blade incendiaries, likely meant to produce smoke.
There is a soft chuckle as the septon encounters the little blades and small round incendiaries. He opens the little bag nudges a finger through them before plucking one out and tucking it into the pouch at his hip. The bag is retied and the contents of the basket nudged back into place before he stands and smiles over at The Stranger's statue, a grin between old friends. Whistling softly, he carries his stool out into the garden, setting it down and seating himself on it as he waits.
She doesn't keep him waiting long, coming out to meet him with a bowl of water and a wicked looking straight razor. "So!" she says, taking his chin in her fingers, tilting his head this way and that. "What do you think. Will I win my little olyphant?" She doesn't look entirely sure, herself. She sweeps her way over to a line of small, succulent scrubs lining the curve of a garden path, snapping off a stalk and slicing it in two with her razor. Its sap is clear and thick, collecting in her palm.
"I was more thinking on the wisdom of letting a strange girl have at my throat with a straight blade," the septon admits, tipping his chin back for her perusal, "but a little risk keeps me interested. I haven't seen much of myself, save in lakes and puddles, for some time, so I couldn't much say."
"Strange?" the girl bats her long, lovely lashes. "Me?" She cops a look so innocent, it's gone right round the bend to devilish again. She flashes a smile and returns to him, slathering his face and throat with the plant extract — which is surprisingly cool and slippery, not sticky at all. She nudges his legs apart with a knee so she can stand between them, very close, with the light glinting off her blade. "A little risk can be very stimulating," she agrees, tipping his chin back to slide the razor up his throat.
"Most strange," the septon agrees, though he makes no complaint of being covered in plant slime nor of the girl with the blade making herself at home between his legs. Rather he sighs softly and closes his eyes as the razor slides across his skin.
"And why do you say that?" murmurs the girl, sliding her thumb up in the wake of the blade, testing for stubble. Satisfied, she tilts his head once more and slides the blade from the base of his throat to the underside of his jaw once more.
"Oh," the brother exhales, keeping still for the blade's attentions, "just a hunch."
She has deft, delicate hands, utterly unselfconcious about wielding the blade. She shifts and leans to attend the line and hinge of his jaw, her thigh brushing the inside of his. The razor navigates his chin and lips, quick licks of cold metal, and her thumb once more is employed to wipe away a bit of the botanical lubricant from near the corner of his mouth. When the blade sweeps back across his cheek, her lips follow, just touching the outer curl of his ear as she whispers, "Did you find anything interesting in my basket?"
He's relaxed, breathing slowly, as she scrapes the stubble away from his jaw. For the question, one eye opens. "Was there everya secret that was not at least a little bit interesting? You had a basket full of them, of course I did."
Her lips curve and she draws back a little, tending the other cheek. "I may have exaggerated the arcane qualities of my basket's contents. Just slightly." She kneels to rinse the blade, then stands again to examine her work, making a few quick touch-ups. "Much of what's within is rather prosaic, if one understands the context. Though… there might a secret or two as well."
"Tell me one," the septon requests, his eye closing again and his voice gone slow with languid drowsiness. "Just one."
She laughs softly, lips near his other ear, and breathes slowly in. "Perhaps one day," she murmurs, drawing slowly away.
He draws in a slow breath, opening his eyes and sitting up properly, glancing about for some means to wipe his face clean. "One day, then," he repeats softly. "I'll look forward to it."
She hands him a soft, clean cloth — and produces a hand mirror from somewhere, so that he can see the results. "There," she says, smiling softly. "I think I've won myself an olyphant."
He accepts the cloth, swiping down across his lower face before wiping at his neck and then under his jaw and across the top of his lip. He blinks at himself in the mirror, running a hand down his smooth cheeks. "Well now. Look at that. Thank you, miss, that was nicely done."
"It's no trouble at all," replies the handmaid, carefully rinsing the blade before dumping out the water. "Certainly the least I can do for one of the Seven's chosen." She casts him a look of mild rebuke. "But your name wasn't in your pockets, you know. And for this, I'm very sad."
"Did you check my pockets?" he asks. "What clever hands you have, I never felt a thing. But I expect, if you can find your name, Miss, I in turn can offer mine."
She sits on the grass, looking pleasantly amused. "What do I look as though my name should be?" she wonders. "Humor me by guessing."
He arches one brow. "No, I'm not that foolish. That's a finely set trap you've laid out, but I'll not be walking into it. A girl never wishes to be humored, only flattered, and I do poorly at flattery."
Her eyebrows lift and she laughs. "Do you really think so?" Her smile grows wide and feline. "Come… flatter me only a little?" she asks sweetly. "Do try. And if you are very poorly at it, perhaps I can offer you instruction."
"You want to teach a septon how to flatter girls," he repeats, shaking his head as his tongue tsks softly. "You've quite strayed from the righteous path, haven't you, miss. Very well, flattery." He draws in a soft breath as he considers. "You hair is like silken sunflowers and your eyes like cloudless sky. How was that?"
"Oh, please. As though you need me to lead you down the garden path," she scoffs lightly, a dimple deep on one cheek. She listens to the attempt at flattery, nodding a little. "That was very lovely," she approves. "Not so very bad at all." She leans closer to him, almost as though she means to rest her chin on his knee. "Now tell me something true."
He considers that, tilting his head to the side as he studies her, fingertips reaching out as if the might touch that hair he spoke of. "Why should I?" he queries softly.
She watches him through her lashes. "Flattery is pretty — but false. The truths that flattery hides, though, are… very compelling things." She turns her head slightly toward that hand which is not quite touching her. "Compel me," she invites, her breath caressing his palm.
"Ah," he murmurs, fingers curling into a light fist and away from her hair, "but perhaps I am not so keen to corrupt beautiful, young girls as you think me. I am still a septon, after all."
"I am no longer young," she replies, smiling ruefully. She brushes back the golden spill of her hair, climbing to her feet. "Nor innocent. Nor a maid. Though I suppose that you think you would corrupt me is flattery enough."
He laughs softly, straightening and pushing into a stand. He picks up the stool to return it to the kitchen. "Well," he muses, "then perhaps we are both too far gone down our paths to be led much deeper by anyone. I thank you, miss, for the shave."
She gathers the blade and bowl and mirror, considering him with a bemused look, then flashes another lovely smile. "Of course, septon. I'll be happy to attend you any time you like."
He nods. "Leoline," he offers, hefting the stool onto his shoulder. "Don't forget your basket."
"Belle," she replies softly, the faintest of rueful smirks tugging one corner of her mouth. "And I didn't go through your pockets."
"No," he agrees, his lips lifting playfully, "or you would have already known my name. Belle." He ducks his head in a small nod befre, whistling again, he turns to walk back into the sept.