||[Mar. 9th, 2007|07:52 pm]
Ocean of Roses
Chyanna ni Fiona, Countess of Roses, has ruled Portland from these gardens since shortly after the Accordance War. Beloved by Traditionalists, grudgingly respected by Modernists, she's ruled with an eye toward fairness and respect toward commoner and nobility alike for decades. It's her handwriting, elegant and graceful, that graces the short summons sent to Jenny -- a rare honor, for such a missive not to come from chamberlain or steward.|
The gardens are dark, alive with possibilities at night, the sounds of civilization distant through the trees. The greatest glow comes from the city itself toward the west, though fae eyes pick out the blue glow of paper lanterns here and there, showing the path to the entrance to the freehold for those who need to see.
Jenny arrives promptly - of course, prompt is after the sun has descended and the tourists have all left, in this case. Her hair has been drawn back in a plain braid with a red butterfly ornament perched on it, and she's chosen to wear a deep red dress with a flowing skirt for the evening - one that many at this court have seen before, of course. She carries her guitar case and whatever it holds; nothing else. She knows the area well enough to make her way carefully down the stairs and toward the freehold entrance, with the gentle glow of the lanterns to help her.
Having seen it before, it's hard to miss the break between two ancient rose bushes, grown together to form a natural arch. The shadows seem darker past them, and the light seems to fade entirely for a few steps before the light comes again, rose-tinted like the flowers all around. Within the hold, the walls are covered in vines, the roses impossibly bright and fragrant. It's only two steps past the darkness where the proper door is, guarded as always by knights in Chyanna's service. One of them, Richard, nods immediately to Jenny. "Her Excellency's expecting you. See her in her drawing room." So no court tonight; only private audience.
Jenny bows her head to him slightly, and sketches a shallow curtsy with one hand on her skirt (the other being occupied with the handle of the instrument case), by way of acknowledgement or respect or thanks or all three. And if she's staring about her, she is also enough used to this that she pauses only briefly as he tells her where - likely to remember the way. Her eyes are a touch wider as she turns to go, however, and a bit of surprise mingles with the general pleasure in her expression.
The passages twist and turn, much like the twists and turns of the rosevines on the walls. She passes other members and servants of the court on her way, most of whom at least give a passing, polite nod to her on their way. It's not far to the drawing room, the door marked with an elegantly inlayed rose in lapis lazuli.
For just an instant, the girl hesitates. Then she nods slightly to herself, steps forward, and taps lightly on the door. "Lady Countess? It's Jenny." Her voice is gentle, but not too soft, rather a normal speaking volume; the words may make it through the door, but if not, most likely at least the tone will, enough to let her voice be recognized.
A voice that'd be impossible to mistake for anyone but the countess' comes through the door, like tumbling water laughing over rocks in a rich contralto. "Come in, please. The door's open."
Jenny's shoulders drop a little, almost as if she yields before that voice, or its owner - hard to be sure if it's the sound or the person it indicates that occasions the reaction. She opens the door and steps in; a quick glance to find the countess and turn to face her. This time the curtsy is a little fuller, though a touch awkward yet as one hand still holds to the guitar case. She doesn't, yet, give the room a more thorough look - if she is curious, which seems probable, she is at least waiting to indulge that curiosity.
Countess Chyanna is sitting behind her desk; the years have turned the dark hair at her temples to grey, but otherwise her face is as unlined as it was the day she rode out of Arcadia. She looks up with a smile, blue eyes like sapphires intent as they study Jenny even as she puts her fountain pen to the side. A moment later and she rises, offering a small bow of her head -- not deep, but respectful. "Please, come in and take a seat." There are two chairs on the other side of the desk for visitors, and the room is lined with bookcases. A large bay window, with a luxuriously cushioned seat, overlooks the gardens, while the floor is covered in a plush tapestry displaying her excellency's shield: a sword, twined with roses.
Jenny moves forward, then, offering a soft, "Thank you." And then she does indulge her curiosity, looking around as she approaches the chairs. Her eyes linger in the appropriate places, though not too long, and then she is looking at the chairs, at least long enough to ensure she sits in one instead of tripping gracelessly over it. She hesitates, almost seeming as if she would add something, but she does not speak again; she only looks at the countess, though there's something of a question in her expression, perhaps.
Watching her curiously, the countess looks only amused at Jenny's wide-eyed regard of her surroundings. She clears her throat delicately at the look, eyes bright. "I suppose you're curious about why I summoned you here today?"
Jenny ducks her head again, though only slightly. "I am," she says, in a tone that makes an 'admission' of it, a hint of shyness to go with the ducked head. The rest of her body language suggests this is surface shyness, perhaps as much from the unusual summons and respect for the countess; it's certainly, as the countess would know, not her usual manner to be shy. Respectful, yes, but not usually shy.
The countess smiles briefly. "Well, simply put? Your unique...situation...puts me in a tricky situation. In short, I've asked someone to look after you in specific. Consider them both a mentor and guardian. They'll be responsible for teaching you what you need to learn, as well as acting as a...reminder, that you are under my protection. I don't assume any of the citizens of our County would think to take advantage of you, but we can't deny that visitors are...frequent."
Startled. The girl is startled, and uncertain, at the mention of her 'situation'. Almost a 'did I understand that right?' expression, perhaps; but she says nothing then, listening to the countess's words. And the expression fades into quiet acceptance; Jenny bows her head slightly. "They are," she acknowledges. "You honor me." If the surprise has settled, the curiosity has not; but she doesn't voice it, for all that it is visible in her expression. At least for the moment, it seems she will wait for the countess to choose to tell her more, or not.
Chyanna mulls, expression thoughtful before she says simply, "I'd like there to be no questions, should anything happen. I don't want to tie you down, or make you think that this is a slight against you. But I want you protected as much as the county is. Besides, with a point of contact? You have someone you can always go to to...see the other side of the world."
Jenny nods slowly, to the first words, and doesn't seem particularly troubled by the thought. But it is the last sentence that garners a reaction. The girl obviously assumed this was rather like grandma's watching over her - where she still had no right to approach, to ask. Or something of the sort. Obviously, because at those words her eyes, her expression light up. She doesn't move from the chair: indeed, she goes very still, as if to hold in the excitement at the thought of...well, at least the ability to ask for admittance. She has never even hovered where she might be taken in, most likely for fear of giving away that she remembered, and the thought of being able to ask seems particularly powerful to her...perhaps not surprisingly.
Chyanna smiles briefly; she was hoping Jenny might come to that realization. A 'guardian' gives her someone she has an excuse to talk to, who clearly will be as in the know as the countess clearly is. "So I take it, as long as my choice of guardian isn't entirely...onorous...you're willing to put up with such an assignment?"
A moment's blank astonishment, poorly covered, at that question. Poor girl: she's being treated like a person with choices, and apparently, she didn't entirely expect that. Then again, while she's been invited courteously, has she had a frank discussion of such things since she was old enough to not be treated as a child? Most probably not. It's her expression that gives her away; her voice is, as is usually the case, gentle and controlled. "Of course, and gladly." Would she have said that without the 'isn't entirely onorous' clause? Who knows.
The countess nods, and turns a crystal over on her desk. AS it glows blue, there's a distant chime that sounds elsewhere in the hold. "Then there seems little reason to hold up introductions." There's a knock at the door a moment later. "Come in," calls Chyanna; the door opens, and a figure swaddled in black robes walks in. Peering out from beneath the deep cowl is the face of one of the underkin -- Silk, the countess' seer. Mysterous, reclusive, but always around for court, he's rarely ever seen out of the shapeless black robe, the hood up. "Silk? This is Jenny, who you know." She pushes herself up. "I'll actually let you two have a few moments to get acquainted." Without further word, she glides out, leaving the two of them alone.
Jenny stands as the countess does, looking startled, though she stays right by the chair. For a long moment she just stares at Silk, though she doesn't seem upset, just very, very surprised. Too many unexpected things, perhaps, but after a moment she gathers herself, and says softly, "Hello." And bows her head, just a touch, before looking back up and - waiting. It could be respect, courtesy, or just outright wariness that keeps her from saying more just yet - after all, she does not know him well - but it isn't fear, at least yet, for she does look at him and there's curiosity in her expression as well as the uncertainty.
[And then we pause, before Silk and Jenny speak, because Jenny's player is a wimp who needs sleep. Alas.]