11921122 In Vino Veritas

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In Vino Veritas
Date: 22th of November, 1192
Location: Geoffrey's House, Royal Quarter
Participants: Geoffrey de Lusignan and Scarlet the Dwarf
Related Logs: None directly, The Forgiveness of a Lusignan? follows right after this scene.
Content Warnings
Geoffrey receives Scarlet the Dwarf at his house at St. George's Place to find that the promise of great quality wine helps in making unexpected allies.
Room Description

Entering the house of Geoffrey de Lusignan one's first sight is an impressive archway of pale stone; the eye is drawn to the arms of his house, freshly painted at its apex. The initial antechamber opens, beyond the arch, into a hall in which torches cast night and day a cosy flickering light. For even at noon this hall is hardly conquered by the light of the sun, but dimly lit through small stained-glass windows in the gallery above.

To the left is a long oak table surrounded by eight wooden chairs, each carved at its back with an ornate 'L'. To the right, inspired by the Saracen way of life, large cushions have been placed around a low table. Here many an evening may be whiled away with conversation and wine, while watching the crackling fire in the hearth which is set into the centre of the right wall. At both extremities of the chamber small doors, interspersed between hangings which depict hunting scenes, lead away to who knows where.

From either side of the archway, stairs curve up into the gallery as though seeking the light. Once therein one may enjoy a splendid view of the hall below, or admit oneself to the private chambers of the master and mistress of the house.

The early morning hour finds Geoffrey de Lusignan before the door of his magnificent house, inspecting the work of the gardeners that have done their utmost to restore the gardens to their splendour, as it had been trampled here and there by the mob a week ago. Although those fish entrails had been removed immediately, some smell seemed to linger for at least a couple of days - at least it appeared so to the Lusignan's fine nose. The thorough inspection of the current state is completed with a raised brow, and the two gardeners present look relieved as they notice the satisfied smile on Geoffrey's features. "Well done, indeed. It looks like that incident had never happened." the Count of Ascalon remarks as he casts another glance over the flowers and bushes. Despite the common opinion he seems to prefer wearing long wide and comfortable garments reminiscent of the Saracen style at home - although a turban certainly would never grace that proud head of his. The fabrics of course of the best quality. He is a Lusignan, after all.

With a heavy head, heavy steps and presumably imposed with a heavy task, a red-eyed, young guard walks down the road leading from St. George's Place to the flowery gardens, where the Lusignan just inspects his property. Next to him there is the cause of suspecting his duty may be a bit more difficult to handle today, Scarlet the dwarf sits elegantly mounted on a white little pony with his hooves clattering slowly but lively as the more on the dusty ground. The imp's attire is, as always, rich, but today without the tiniest hint of southern silks or turbans. His doublet is made of light, yellow sammet and a hat in luminant red covers his huge, lolling head.

"Oi, old friend the Count! Are you smelling the flowers at this lovely morn'? Nothing more pleasant to tickle a hero's nose, isn't it?", Scarlet calls in his dark, foreign accent, as he leads his pony a bit closer. "And the Saracen fabrics fit you well enough, as I see. Quite elegant."

The strange couple of a guard and a mounted dwarf are enough to draw the Lusignan's attention long before he is so charmingly addressed. "Old friend?" he repeats, arching a brow while the corners of his mouth twist upwards in an amused smile. But answering this part of the greeting with a little shake of the head, nothing more, it remains unclear which of the two words has managed to draw his particular amusement. "Well met, Sir Scarlet, knight of the bawdy jokes." Geoffrey greets, even inclining his head a touch to the small man on the pony. "And yes, the smell of flowers is welcome, even to such a battle-hardened veteran such as I." Then his gaze drops down, brushing his own casual attire and he replies with a smirk: "Funny how the customs of these lands seem to haven smitten even the nobility of the West. I find these clothes most comfortable, maybe a sign that I am indeed getting old?" Geoffrey chuckles at what is obviously meant as a jest. "But what brings you here, Scarlet? I was about to go inside, will you join me?"

"Into the secret idyll of the Count Geoffrey de Lusignan? Where they tell wine as sweet as a maiden's laughter floods the cellars, and even spitting pots are made of pure gold? Yes, young friend, I'm most honored." Scarlet answers, dismounting his pony in surprising agility. "Take him to the stables, will you?", he instructs the guard shortly.

Waddling the last bit of distance between him and the Count on his feet, he keeps musing. "Well, good friend - isn't it always a blistering question which cloak to wear to keep you comfortable?"

Casually he stops to fumble at a rosy blossom on a bush nearby. "They grow well, handsome friend. Surpsisingly well. Some say you paid good coin to keep your gardens that... productive." Finally standing in front of the host, he bows deeply - a grotesque, but sincere gesture to show some respect. At least to the customs, the nobles often tend to cling to.

However swiftly he waves the dwarf's flattery off, the smile on Geoffrey's face gives away he is not unhappy about it. "I *have* a wine cellar, yes. And while I would not dare to compete with what is offered at the Royal Palace, I can boast of one or two caskets of most exquisite wine myself." the Lusignan counters, trying to play his wine supplies down both in quantity and quality. "As for the cloak: I have never had to ponder where my loyalties lie, if it was that you were referring to, Sir Dwarf. And that is not what happened. My gardens were growing splendidly before that 'incident', I... didn't pay any coin, I was giving it away to the poor in need." Geoffrey's smile fades a little as he puts these points straight. After the dwarf has honoured him with his bow he is most eager to change the subject: "Now come inside. I don't believe you have been to my house before? Well, it is about time you witness the famous Lusignan hospitality." And he leads the way, entering the house through the door that leads inside.

"Ah, yes. Be hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. Everything a man needs to be..." Scarlet answers as he waddles after his noble host.

As soon as he crosses the door-frame his movements seem to change. Subtly the edges of his motions dissolve, the steps grow softer, the huge, lolling head rests serenely on his nobly-collared neck. "A beautiful residence you found. It looks peaceful at the first sight. In any case it is the sign of a clever man inhabiting the area.", the dwarf muses with his 'r's' still boiling on his tongue.

Scarlet's remark makes the Lusignan pause and turn back to eye the small man before him, his pompous yet somehow friendly demeanour now slightly cooled. "If I did not know better I would assume you are mocking me, dwarf?" he states, raising a brow. The next comments of his guest seem to be more to his liking, however, as he casts a glance about the hall that constitutes the lower floor of his house, looking quite pleased with himself. "I am impressed you have noticed." Geoffrey smiles. "The thing I did when I had the place furnished... You know, I had a vision. Not a religious one, of course..." A soft chuckle escapes those noble lips that twist into a smile. And moving further into the hall he points to the table with the beautifully carved chairs first. "Here we have the West, represented by the civilized furniture of my home, Poitou. While over there we have the East." Geoffrey gestures towards the other side of the hall, where comfortable cushions have been placed in the style of the Saracens. "Curiously enough, the 'West' is at the western side of the building and the 'East' on the eastern side. I am sure, my wife will be delighted when she arrives. However, as she was not here when I had to decide on the interior, I am pleased I did rather well."

"Mocking? My Lord the Count, forgive me. 'tis nothing but a bad habit of mine to use big words to enlarge my own humble height. But I see you, with your head held high are able to catch a good overview over this land's horizon. The east, the west... tell me, where is it most comfortable in this beautiful place?" Scarlet asks wandering around and nodding in appreciation at a few pieces of furniture. Absently he touches one of the cushions in the eastern part. "You seem to have found fine silks here. Would you tell me, where you found them?"

Geoffrey chuckles at Scarlet's inquiry about the most comfortable area. "That would be... the east, I suppose. It's where we are at the moment, is it not? There might come a time, when some of us will return home, to the less comfortable seats that are so familiar to us - less comfortable but defining us in a way, they after all have made us what we are today..."

The Lusignan ponders for a short moment before he moves over to the eastern side, where the dwarf seems to have wandered already. "The east it shall be then, for now. A bit of wine? A bit of food? Are you hungry, Scarlet?" With a quick wave of his hand the Lusignan signals for a servant to fetch something to eat and drink, before he takes a seat on one of those comfortable cushions. "Those fine silks?" he repeats the question of the dwarf, looking at a loss for a moment. "I do not remember, alas. I did not go to the bazaar to buy them by myself. No, I had help from my brother Amalric - and his charming wife, Eschiva."

"Wine and food, what a generous offer! I'd be a fool to say no. Well, in case that might moot some doubts yes, yes. A bit of wine to warm our limbs and to cool our thoughts would be more than welcome." The dwarf says as he climbs on a cushioned seat. "Count Amalric and his charming wife... they have been quite rare at court these days. But talking of wifes - why is it yours is still in the west? I'd say there is more than enough place for many little Lusignans in the east and the west over here, even if others might disagree. What is it that keeps her away from here?"

A little shadow seems to fall over the Lusignan's face, when Scarlet speaks about the Constable of Jerusalem, but he does not answer right away, apart from a rather thoughtful nod. The servant's return is a welcome interruption, as he brings two cups of wine, and some bread and smoked ham as well. "My wife... a long story, we have been married for... ten years I think?" Geoffrey muses, after taking a first sip from the wine. It is red, of a rich taste and of good quality. "She was twelve, when I married her. A foolish little giggling girl." the Lusignan continues, shaking his head in amusement. "And not long after our marriage I had to leave my home and went abroad. To Italy at first, Pisa, and then Sicily."

"To the generosity of a clever man!", Scarlet raises his cup. Before he swallows the first voracious gulp, he widens the nostrils of his sharp nose and soaks in a deep breath of the red fluid's scent. "10 years from now? She is probably a pretty flower waiting to be plucked by now.", he says leaning back into the cushions. "But for your travels... Pisa and Sicily... yes, the lands in Italy are beautiful. Kissed by the sun and the sea. I'm sure you gathered many friends back there, courteous men. Over here some of the less canny nobles seem to despise your family, though. Some quite vociferously, others more subtly... all of them not very thoughtful, if you ask me, though."

Geoffrey smirks a little at Scarlet's reference to Eustacia as a 'flower waiting to be plucked' and takes another sip from the wine, preferring silence over any boastful or even bawdy remark that might indeed be inpappropriate in the dwarf's presence. Pursing his lips when the talk turns to his time in Italy, the Lusignan leans back into the comfortable cushions, his brown eyes growing a little distant as his thoughts apparently are engaged on old memories for a while.

"Aye, while I used my time there for making useful allies, I learned who to consider as my enemies... It is the same actually, whereever I go. But... here in the Holy Land it is probably worse. Too great are the achievements of us Lusignans over here to not inspire awe - and envy: My brother Guy, former King of Jerusalem and current King of Cyprus; my brother Amalric, Constable of Jerusalem and Count of Jaffa; and myself, the Count of Ascalon." Geoffrey lets out a sigh, but it is one of confidence and contentment - and pride.

"Yesss." Scarlet lets the syllable of agreement, to whatever of Geoffrey's speech it is referring, drown in his closely embraced cup. "Yes.", he repeats after another swallow, emptying the last drops of wine. "Your family found its way to their glory, mighty men wear your name. But the art of knowing who is loyally following you, who speaks of your friendship sincerely is often a most delicate matter. Mighty men often are lonely. Small men, surprisingly..." and again the sentence is suffocated, this time by a piece of bread, that is greedily stuffed into the dwarf's mouth.

The Lusignan seems too immersed in his own thoughts, at first, to react to the dwarf's speech with anything else but an absent nod. His last remark though lets him turn his head in Scarlet's direction in slight bewilderment. "Mighty... and small men? I do not suppose you are referring to yourself here, Sir Dwarf? Or to mighty men, seeking the company of dwarves?" Geoffrey's eyes narrow slightly. "Do I need to remind you, that it was you who came by my house? Even if I, with the courtesy my family is known for, have invited you to come inside?" His gaze flits to his own almost empty cup of wine, as he is not overly eager to watch the sight of the dwarf munching on the bread. And gesturing for his servant to refill it instantly, he lets his gaze return to Scarlet, studying his face intently before he inquires with furrowed brows: "Might I ask you what has brought you here? Did you come past my house on purpose - and if so, on what purpose - or do I owe the pleasure of this meeting to pure chance, and the strange way of the Lord?"

Patiently Scarlet chews, meeting Count Geoffrey's eyes. Finally he swallows, clears his throats and raises his empty cup reflexively again. Furrowing his dense brows he looks unsatisfiedly into the empty vessel, shrugs and responds.

"You flatter me, good count. I fear I'm neither tall enough to bear the sword that would make me a knight, nor mighty enough to gather others to carry one for me. No pointy ends to fear from my side. I was just referring... well, some tend to be entertained by my presence, others don't mind to lower their gaze. Down there, where I use to walk, sometimes curious bits of news tend to drop, ready to pick them up. I like your boots, fancy friend, so I decided to tell you. That's why I'm here. So. Is there a possibility of refilling my cup?"

"There is, most certainly." Geoffrey replies, waving at his servant with an impatient gesture to refill the cup. "In return for offering me the news you just spoke of. If this price would be agreeable to you, Scarlet. Wandering the halls of the Palace, as you usually are, the information you might have for me could indeed be useful." The compliment of his boots is, surprisingly, ignored for now. Swiftly the servant obeys, and sooner than he might have expected the dwarf finds his cup again filled almost to the brim with the same remarkable wine he has just tasted.

"Thank you, dear." The dwarf says to the diligent servant. "The prize for an imp's knowledge?" a chuckle ascends from his stouty chest, a deep, feral chortling not lasting more than a glimpse.

"Well you're right my noble friend. Keeping my cup filled is a good possibility to keep my mouth moving. But pray... have you ever tasted the Rhenish wine? Smooth like the skin of a maiden, but heavy like a yearning heart. Say you give me some of that, about the weight that my words will prove worthy of. I shall be one of your most loyal friends, yess." with a bold grin he reaches out one of his crooked arms to wait for the count's shake of hands.

The Lusignan sips from his cup in silence, the little smile on his face hinting that he is indeed attentively listening to the dwarf's proposal. There is a little pause, before Geoffrey lifts his gaze to meet that of Scarlet, and nodding slowly he replies: "According to an old Germanic legend the Rhine holds a great treasure, buried beneath its busily flowing waters. In my opinion, its true treasure grows on the mountains beside it, however. And, luckily for you and I, I have a casket of wine of that area in my posession, that I might be willing to part with - if the information you have to offer will prove that valuable." And leaning forward he extends his hand to offer it as a sign of confirmation of their little bargain, before he adds: "In that case, it shall be yours." It is then that he grabs the little man's hand, sealing the arrangement with a shake of their hands.

When he leans back into his seat again, a little smile plays around the courners of the Lusignan's mouth. An ally, even a bought one, could prove most useful in the future. When at the moment there are indeed only few.

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