(1874-11-01) Morning In The Market
Morning In The Market
Summary: Chance encounters at the Fiorello market. Some go better than others.
Date: 2018-11-01
Related: None, Yet.
NPCs: None
Alia  Bertram  Ivo  Ludovic  

Fiorello-Town - Marketplace

Fiorello-town along the banks of the surging Fiore is an undeniably pretty place; it overlooks the river in its glory, with brick-and-wood docks that reach out into waving cattails and house a dozen ships at a time. Fiorellansare brightly dressed, with both men and women traditionally growing their hair long and wearing brightly embroidered vests and full-sleeved blouses belted over hardy trousers or skirts. Buildings are largely two-to-three stories tall with hanging baskets of flowers at the eaves and over the signposts of businesses, while the marketplace is paved with swept red brick that makes the clatter of commerce sharp and merry.

Quince and persimmon are kept in large stone planters around the square, and the stalls are roofed by gaily dyed canvas; here you can buy some of the best spices in the West, delivered by the Armaz ships directly from Partharia to be processed here before being sent all over Aequor. The smell of them is almost overwhelming, and oftentimes accompanied by the dark, earthy aroma of roasting kaffe beans, another export enjoyed by the locals. Cats can be seen on roof tiles and on windowsills, and it's common local practice to keep one or two in one's shop or home, all thanks to an old superstition that cats drive away water-horses and other bogies.

A watched cart-road out of town leads up the slope of Mt Rosa. The road is narrow and switches back many many times as it winds through the trees of the stony slope, beneath rocky cliffs and past natural springs; its this that one must travel to reach Armaz castle near its peak.


It's the morning after the night before, and what a night before it had been. Some of the party guests have already left, but there are still a large number of unfamiliar faces out and about. Well, as a port town that's always the case, but these are unfamiliar faces with a touch more class than your average ship's crew. The airships will be doing a fine trade for a day or two most likely, as will any alchemist with a credible claim to a remedy for sore heads.

The owner of one of the latter is Ivo. He'd left the party relatively early in the company of an attractive young woman and they'd had their own, more private, party long into the night. Not that he remember many details mind, must have been the wine, there was copious amounts of it after all, and that would explain the pounding in his head and why the sun hurts quite so much as he strides down to the marketplace from the gates of the castle. The elaborate costume of last night is gone and now he's back in boots, trousers, white linen shirt and leather jerkin open to the waist. The noise of the hustle and bustle is not entirely welcome, but he has to go make sure all is well on-board his ship at the docks, so this is a transit he must suffer. There is one upside though, there's plenty of hair of the dog in his holds, and he's thinking on that as he starts to push his way through the crowds.

Sir Bertram of Harcourt, knight and engineer of the d'Armaz family, is comfortable in Fiorello after serving for many years. Though he doesn't live in the town on a normal basis, he's got a small house in it, suitable for his rank, for when he's called to attend to his lord or lady. Today, after a night equal to any other party he's done, the short, middle aged knight walks through town with a tankard full of ale. Hair of dog and all that, he doesn't look any worse for the wear.

It wasn't a heavy head that had brought Alia to the marketplace, or to the small stall which seemed to do most of its trade in hot kaffe, perfect for a winter morning. She had had nothing at all to drink, which did not explain the difficulty she had had in remembering the night before. Perhaps it had simply been the stress of the journey, finding some way to relieve itself. Whatever the circumstance, she looked much wider awake and in less pain than a good number of the people floating around the market. Even her voice was pleasant, lightly accented with hints of her eastern Aequorian roots, as she purchased a string of drinks, handing out half a dozen, one to each of the imperial legionaries who were arrayed around her, keeping the last for herself before the whole party moved further out of the market to settle not far from the docks.

Ivo is well enough known as a d'Armaz that he doesn't actually struggle to make his way through the crowds, a small area generally seems to remain clear infront of him as he progresses. There's a few greetings offered to faces that he recognises, including Bertram, but his eye is then drawn to the band of legionaries that appear ahead of him, apparently heading for the same destination as him. "Interesting," he offers to no one in particular before picking his pace up a touch to slowly close on the group. His inquisitive side getting the better of him once more.

Bertram decides to tag along with the resident d'Armaz. He knows his place as a retainer and is more than happy to fall in behind or aside one of better influence and blood. "Interesting it is. Wonder what those whelps're doing so far away from land they thieved from the Bull?" He's obviously referring to Ludovic.

The group, despite how odd they likely seemed in such a far off place, did not appear to be up in arms, or especially wary of their environment. Or perhaps they were simply that god at masking their intentions. Still, they all seemed content to take their morning break, the men passing a small basket of sweetbreads between them. Alia, for her part, moved to stand a small distance away from the men, close enough that she was within their circle of protection, without being in the midst of them. Most of her attention was trained on the docks, and the sea beyond, but it was impossible to miss the parting of the ways that Ivo and his retainer of a sort, caused, and as they approached, she turned to offer a companionable enough greeting, "Good morning, my Lord, Sir."

Ivo gives Bertram a brief glance as the engineer falls into step with him, but doesn't seem to object to the man's company. Turning his head back to the foreigners he ponders for a moment then says with more than a hint of amusement, "so long as they're not about to try and thieve anything from my uncle I suppose I don't mind so much. Perhaps they're here to trade?" Then, as their progress draws them closer and the lady hails them he fixes on his best diplomatic smile and returns the greeting with a respectful tilt of his head. "My Lady. I trust you find all that you require here in Fiorello?"

The knight grins at Ivo. "S'a stupid man who tries to steal from Adriono d'Armaz, m'lord." He chuckles, and then nods at the Imperial. "Morning it is, m'lady." Bertram can spot a noble and smell them out with relative ease, and besides, it seems fairly evident to him that Alia is in charge of the gaggle of legionairies. He raises his tankard of ale as if to salute said morning. "Sightseeing in Fiorello then?"

As the two men approached, the half-dozen all looked up, eyes alert, but a small hand signal from Alia seemed to set them to rights, and the all returned to their breakfast, leaving Alia to return the greeting, "A bit of both, with luck, this morning. Sightseeing so early, and when the stall open for brisker business, perhaps a chance to find what I require." Alia's clothing was simple, black, with black embroidery, with no colours or crests to mark a House. The only adornment she seemed to have taken up was a pair of cords, blue and black, marking her a member of the Legio XIII Asterrea. The pin which affixed it to her shoulder marked her a Tribune. "Though I lived for many years in Four Corners, I had not had an opportunity to visit Fiorello before now. It is a lovely place."

There's a chuckle from Ivo in response to Bertram's remark, "a stupid man indeed, but thankfully a rare one." As they come to a stop by the legionary soldiers and their Tribune he turns slightly, so the sun is less offensive to his hangover and nods to Alia's words. He's not worried by the soldiers glances, confident that they're not stupid enough to launch an unprovoked assault on a d'Armaz in the centre of Fiorello, and also confident in Bertram's ability to deal with such things if required. Indeed the soldiers are allowed to phase into the background as he focuses on the vastly more interating lady with them. "If it is not too bold to ask," he starts, still with his best diplomatic smile, "what might it be that you're you require? Both myself and Sir Bertram here are familiar with this market and can offer advice or directions as required." It looks like he's going to leave it there before a thought clear occurs to him and he adds, "but how rude of me, I have not introduced myself. Ivo d'Armaz, Captain of my uncle's fine ship Ocean Seeker."

"Only rare cause m'lord has 'em swinging from the ends of ropes, or else turned from one man into four, if ya catch my drift." Bertram seems fully at home discussing death and mutilation of brigands, and just shrugs again. His shrewd eyes pass over the soldiers, one hand on the tankard and the other on the hilt of the short sword he carries at his hip, nodding in appreciation. "Good troops, m'lady. Not slack, got a strong look to 'em. Sir Bertram of Harcourt."

Ludovic starts making his way through the market crowds, suppressing a yawn as he does so. Whilst he's obviously not had a great deal of sleep he also looks hale and hearty, without a trace of any of the squinting or roughness that would indicate he spent the night in his cups. His dress is once again the costume of a horned knight, without the armor, but the most striking thing about him is probably the glassy sheen of the warhammer he's carrying much like a cane and perhaps, for those who have met him a lot of late, the fact he is not wearing a hat. He starts to walk past the small group but stops, looks right across at them, and changes his path to one that will join them.

"Broken any castles lately Sir Bertram?" The words are given with friendly overtone. "Rough Night Captain?" That for Ivo. Alia he gives a comfortable smile. "Good Morning Lady d'Meloni. I trust you slept well?"

If Alia heard the tail end of the conversation between the Lord and the knight, she gave no indication. Her hands remained around the cup, though it had stopped steaming as ferociously as it had been, the slight breeze of the morning helping to bring it to a more comfortable drinking temperature. It was not at all unpleasant, to remain standing so close to the docks, "Kaffe and spices, which is likely not at all a surprise. But the joy of trading is in discovering what is on offer as the seasons change." Laughter, light and fair replaced her words at the introduction, before she dipped a careful half curtsy, "A pleasure to meet you. Alia d'Meloni, late of Four Corners, by way of County Hellmouth, now…" the slightest shrug, as she offered half a glance to the legionaries. "And you, Sir Bertram. And thank you for the compliment, though I think I cannot take credit for their skills or alertness. I am grateful for their company, though I daresay they've grown a bit tired of traipsing about the kingdoms with me." The sound and sight of a familiar figure, brings an answering smile, "Passing well, Your Excellency. I was hoping I might see you before you returned to Hellmouth."

If Ivo had a glass in his hand he'd raise it in agreement with Bertram's sentiments, but as it is he has to settle for a simple, "and rightly so." As Ludovic makes his presence known he sneaks a quick smile to Bertram, given their prior comments, then moves a fraction to indicate that the Viscount is welcome to join their little impromptu gathering. "A rather smooth one actually Your Excellency," he replies with a warm grin, "or what I can remember of it anyway. It is alas the morning that is proving to be rough, as is so often the case." Then, to Alia, "the pleasure is all mine I am sure. Kaffe and spice, no, not a great surprise, but then where would we be without them. I can recomment a few solid merchants if you're so inclined, and can also recommend a few good wine merchants too if you're looking to vary your cargo."

"No castles to break, m'lord." Bertram gives a dip of his head, probably not totally appropriate in greeting a Viscount but, then again, he's not exactly a refined fellow. "But we might have to stride up to break the water heathens' castles someday, I hear. Anyways." He takes a deep drink of his tankard, the ale's foam sticking to his moustache. He doesn't bother wiping it off. "Nice hammer, m'lord." To Alia, "Eh, it's a sore sight better than garrison, m'lady, you can bet that. They get to eat and drink in a different place every once in a while, and they've not got their Serjeant or whatever you lot have for that breathing down their neck an' all." Spoken like a man with experience.

"Well I'm here now Alia." Ludovic tells her. "Though i'm planning to head north in a few days." Ivo's tale gets a chuckle. "Everything sweet needs a bit of sour to make it right huh?" And Bertram. Bertram he says "None to break? You've not been on the western front then?"

"I would be glad of the recommendations, though if you had other duties which pressed, I would not feel poorly if you begged off and found me later. I am not difficult to find, alas." He had, after all, named himself a captain,a nd even she knew captains rarely left their ships for long. Bertram's comment drew a smile, "You would think I would have learned that by now, but perhaps I have been fortunate not to have been holed up on Candeo for the duration of my service. And in the case of these men, Centurion." Ludovic's comment drew a dip of her head, as if in apology, "Then I will not offer to airship with you. I am headed in entirely the opposite direction after I am finished here."

"If only I could remember more of the sweetness," Ivo replies almost ruefully to Ludovic, but he's still smiling. "I'm sure it wasn't this bad when I was younger, but perhaps that is simply the rosey view of hindsight talking." He glances across to Bertram for confirmation on that, the engineer being older than him and thus likely able to confirm or deny if age is indeed a factor, then finally takes in Alia once more. "Sadly Lady Alia, there are indeed pressures on my time this morning, but if you're like we could discuss it later? Over lunch perhaps? The local merchants are used to providing samples to my ship to try and convince me to fill my holds with their wares over their neighbour's, and it would save you traipsing round trying to find them all individually. I will speak with the gangway watch, and see that you are admitted should you be so inclined, or you can leave word there if another venue is more to your needs. For now though, I fear said pressures do call me away. Good morning all, and do enjoy your stay here in our fine town." Pleasantries over with he detaches himself from the group and continues on his way down to the docks, where business awaits.

"Been where they needed me." Answers Bertram cryptically, before thinking better of ending it that way. "Aye, m'lord, in the West. Watching and such. They've been avoiding us on the border, not worth the trouble I think. Couple of skirmishes and they stopped. I figure it was the younger lads that heard how rich we were here." He grins and shrugs at Ivo.

Ludovic gives Ivo a grin. "Seem to recall drinking and suffering nothing for it once too." He gives Bertram a nod. "Can't blame them for that. Gotta say I was glad to have you all to my west with everything that's been happening." Shifting the czekan up into the crook of his arm he gives the leather capped head a little pat and grins to the knight. "More practical than it looks Sir. Blooded it once or twice already. Even with the qatunax's distraction there's always some to find." He looks to Alia. "You're heading into Galenthia?"

Alia lifted her mug, a salute of sorts and a farewell to Ivo, as he stepped away. As she brought the mug back down, she finally took a sip of the kaffe she had finally gotten down to a comfortable temperature. It was perfectly timed to make it impossible for her to comment on the war on any front, which, all things considered, was likely for the best, "No, back to Hellmouth, and then home. What takes you north, if I am allowed to ask?"

"Huh. Never been much of an axe or hammer man myself, though I swing enough of them in craft. But I fight in narrow places, like something I can stick the foe with, m'lord." Bertram uses his free hand to tap the very ordinary looking scabbard of his short sword. He lapses into silence as the two nobles talk, simply sipping his ale.

Ludovic shrugs to Alia. "Court. Wanna try and get some stuff done whilst its still early enough in the year that I wont freeze solid in my boots."

Bertram he nods at, chuckling as he adds. "Greatly favor using a shield but you're right. Situation like that, with a man that actually knows what he's doing with one of those stickers." He gestures to the short sword and gives Bertram an easy going grin. "And Its gonna be a bad day." Another grin. "Ain't that many who can best me though. Bad terrain or no." He looks Bertram up and down and then says "Bet there's a thing or two you could teach me though?" Alia he casts a brief smile to. "What do you reckon Lady Alia?

Alia lifted a hand, freeing itself from the mug, "I think I will not invite myself along on your journey, if it's all the same to you, Dovi. I value my sanity too much." There was amusement in her tone, as she stepped back in to the conversation, now that more dangerous territory had been avoided. "I would venture to say that Sir Bertram could teach us both, though I think myself more than you. I have only just risen to the level of passable. Or…possible not destined to die upon the first strike."

"Maybe in a tunnel or a passageway, m'lord. I've been doing it for a long time, m'lady, but I'm old and I hurt in the mornings and when it's cold out. I'm better when planning, these days, but I'll draw if I need to." Bertram smiles wryly, drains the remains of his tankard and then bows at them both. "I'll leave you to it, m'lord, m'lady. I'll be at the guard post in town square if'n ya need."

Ludovic nods at Bertram. "Aye. Didnt mean to keep you from you're duties." Alia he glances to. "But its such a wonderful place filled with such delightful people Alia."

"The perhaps I will have to plan ahead to catch you in the height of midsummer, Sir Bertram." Alia did not move to block the man's departure offering only a friendly farewell, though she did turn to watch the knight walk back into the crowd. Ludovic's comment drew a wry smile, "How much, precisely, did you have to drink last night, Dovi?"

Ludovic lifts his eyebrows at Alia's question. "Couple of glasses. Why?"

Alia lifted the mug, offering it to Ludovic. It was kaffe, lightened with cream and likely with a bit of sugar added. "Only that I had to question whether or not your senses had been impaired if you were actually being honest about thinking that court was a place filled with delights."

Ludovic inhales the scent coming off the kaffe before taking a swig and handing it back. "Remember i'm all important these days. Likely to be all kinds of intrigue." He chuckles. "I admit I'm tempted to just ask the archduchess instead."

"Well," ALia offered, as she reclaimed the mug, taking a sip before she continued, "I suppose, in your position, that does give you the advantage of not having to be the one currying favour." Again, that smile, though it was more humoured than the one before, "From what I know of her, she might be the path of least resistance."

"Never gonna understand how someone so sweet-natured manages not to be eaten by the wolves." Ludovic says to Alia. "It took me a while to recognise you last night. If you'd not spoken of things like you did I might not have realised. Why'd you go anyway? You just made your disdain for courtly things rather obvious." As they speak a boy comes over, dressed in a simple tunic of yellow and black pinned with a brooch depicting the three arrows of d'bartone, and almost as soon as he's fallen into position Ludovic tells him. "Go get me some Kaffe lad"

"Perhaps there is steel beneath the velvet that she has well learned how to hide. The most adept political movers and often the most subtle. The right word can often do much more than a sharp sword. or a keen axe." Merriment coloured Alia's expression at talk of the masque, "I did try not to give myself away, though, I suppose that does destroy the fantasy." As for why, Alia lifted her shoulders, a twitch that was halfway to a shrug, "How could I avoid it? I am here, yes, as a trader, but also as a representative of the Empire. It behooves me to place myself into the social circles of those who live here. I have not entirely forgotten all that I learned at my mother's knee." She paused, as the page, if that was what he was, approached, returning to the conversation when he had scampered off to fulfill Ludovic's request, "And what woman would pass up an opportunity to wear a beautiful dress?"

"Dont see the point in such an event if nobody knows who you are." Ludovic admits. "If I wasn't gonna be seen to attend then I might as well stay back home where I could actually visit those who've passed instead of spending a night making small talk and pretending it mattered." He looks almost sheepish at that. "Sorry. This time of years not easy for me." His eyes follow Alia's as she looks to the boy. "D'Bartone's son."

"The fantasy is the point Dovi. Of course everyone knows who everyone else is, they simply pretend that they don't. It is a night that is precisely for pretending that we are what we wish to be and not who we are. Of course, it also allows, as I said, for people to use that willful self-deception to allow them to do things they might not otherwise do." Alia did not seem put out by the comment, considering that most of the small talk he had had the night before had been with her, "There is no reason to apologize. We all live with ghosts. Sometimes…they come back. And these times are more likely to find them haunting is than others." The identity of the boy she answered with a nod, "A page? or have you taken another squire?"

"Strictly speaking." Ludovic says. "He's a hostage. His father killed my uncle. One of the first things that happened that, back when I was still trying to work it all out. Think we're all working well together now but, well," he sighs. "Suspect his dad knows theres not much chance of me actually hurting the boy." He looks up at Alia. "You know today's the anniversary of my inheriting this title?"

"Many pages begin their lives as gisils. But their lives and the attitudes of the people who interact with them should not punish the child. The mere fact that he is being made to pay a debt incurred by someone else is punishment enough." The question seemed to darken Alia's expression, some edge of hardness coming into her voice, "Do you imagine I could forget that you inherited the title at the same time that I lost all of my kin, Ludovic?"

"That was the year before." Ludovic points out. "Two years since I lost my wife, my brother, nephews, cousins, neices, soldiers. One year since I lost my father." He studies her for a long moment. "You ever driven so hard for years that you never had time to feel nothing? Then just like that you've time to breath?" He gives a little ill humoured grunt. "Probably wont keep. Last time I felt like this I found a vampire in my bedroom." The boy comes back and he takes the kaffe and gives the boy's hair a friendly ruffle. "Come on kid. Lets go watch the boats. This is one of the great naval hubs of Aequor you know?" A glance to Alia which classes as a goodbye and then he starts ambling off towards the riverbank.

"And today is the anniversary of all of those things, Ludovic. It does not matter, does it, in such cases when these things happened, when they are still happening now, and every time we remember them." Alia's expression did not darken, at least not further than it had already done, but the hand not holding the mug clenched, the air around her fist shimmering, though the boy's return gave her time enough to control her temper. "No, I've never experienced that freedom of breath, Ludovic." It was likely just as well that he chose that moment to wander off, Alia turning away from the docks to signal the legionaries to walk with her back into the market proper.

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