11921221 Farewell, My Lion of Flanders

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Farewell, My Lion of Flanders
Date: 21st of December, 1192
Location: Pleasure Gardens, Royal Palace
Participants: Ophélia d'Avesnes and Chlodric de Flobecq (emitted by Raimon)
Related Logs: The Maiden and the Lion and The Tourney on St Zachary's Day
Content Warnings
A farewell with much being left unsaid.
Room Description
The immediate impression of lush greenery is a cunningly maintained illusion, and most of what passes beneath the feet of visitors to these gardens, for all the fruit and flower-burdened arbours above their heads, is sand, stone, pebbles, marble, and - above all - water. The fountain of the yard was only a suggestion of the insistent, musical rippling that fills the ear in the garden itself. Little rivulets and cataracts flow all about with a straightness that reveals the order and effort that ordained their position. While in fact carefully structured, the gardens seem natural and puzzling from within, and it is easy to lose oneself - or other people, to seize a private conversation. Trellises create divisions into many ever more secluded domains. Statues are rare - as one would expect from the Emir's leavings - but there is a shrine to the Virgin and Child above one silvery pool.

Another early morning graces the Palace Gardens with the first rays of the sun and is greeted in turn with the happy chirping of two or three colourful birds, sitting on the bushes and trees. Suddenly they spread their wings and rise into the air when another colourful bird approaches from the direction of the central court. A maiden of sixteen years, wearing a dress in the lively hues of orange and red. Her dark brown hair is secured in a single braid at the back of her head and her cheeks look rather pale while she casts a slightly nervous glance about the gardens as if she were searching for someone. A few steps behind her, the trusted chaperone Maryse follows, still looking a bit sleepy as she suppresses a yawn.

The town of Acre is slowing coming to life with the dawn and the palace is turning into a hive of activity with bakers bringing fresh bread and fishermen the catch of the night. The first gardener is up and about as well, watering the plants after another night without rain. Watching the man is a lonesome man glad in practical leather garb, with a cloak around his shoulders that seems to be a travel cloak. He is leaning on a crutch and looks a little sentimental, while he's waiting.

Her grey eyes with a touch of green brush the gardener with their gaze, but it is the lonesome figure that attracts her attention. Ophelia d'Avesnes steps closer until she is in a distance of two arm lengths to the cloaked man and lowers herself into a curtsey. The smile that is displayed on her young and innocent features tries to hide the look of bewilderment in her eyes. And her voice trembles a little as she raises it to address him. "Sir Chlodric de Flobecq. You... wished to see me?"

Chlodric smiles when he sees the girl, a smile that is tinged both with a little sadness and relief that she did turn up. "Indeed I did, Mylady. Thank you for coming. I hope I did not rouse you from your sleep too early on this fine morn? I have little time left unfortunately."

"Oh no... I am used to get up early. I often do my embroidery work in the light of the morning, and oh, how I love the silence that precedes the bustle of the day..." Ophelia replies with a shy smile. "It is Maryse, that I had to wake, though." An amused glance is shot at her still weary chaperone. Then her attention returns to the Flemish knight and her eyes widen a touch as she perceives his last remark. "Little time left...? You mean... you will leave us soon?" One hand moves upwards and comes to rest upon that necklace of hers, the one with the silver cross pendant. "I thought... you were to stay here? And... I am sure, you can't be already that well recovered to subject yourself to the hardships of travelling...?" The words come spilling out of her without much thinking obviously, while a hint of regret slowly finds its way into those already bewildered eyes of hers.

"My apologies.", Chlodric nods to Maryse with a little amused smile, that soon fades again as he listens to Ophelia. "There is a ship sailing for Bruges today - a day's journey from my home. It was an opportunity not to be missed.", he explains, "I will take my chances." He pauses for a moment, considering her expression, then adds quietly: "There is nothing left for me to do here, Mylady. My days on the battlefields are over. Jerusalem is lost to us. It is time for this old lion to return home and watch his cubs grow. They've been without me for too long..."

While she listens in all politeness to Chlodric's explanation Ophelia gnaws on her lower lip with her eyes seeming a little restless, darting here and there before they come to rest again on the strong impressive knight that stands there before her, hardened by battle and crippled - ironically - by the whim of the Queen's husband in a tourney. "I surely did not expect you to leave so soon, Sir Chlodric.", the lady-in-waiting admits. "I was so glad to meet someone from my home here of all places, that it has never occured to me that you would want to return, foolish girl that I am. And selfish, too." A little chuckle follows, although not very convincing in its supposed cheerfulness. "I... was not aware that you have family back in Flanders, Sir. It seems most natural that you would wish to be reunited with them." She lowers her gaze folding her arms before her, betraying that this particular fact has indeed been unexpected.

"My youngest hadn't yet filled her first year when I departed for the Holy Land.", Chlodric explains, his gruff features softening at the memory, "She must be running around now and talking her mother's ears off." He sighs and smiles at the same time, then looks at the girl again: "Aye, a wife and three children, who I hope are all still alive. And I hope no younger additions to the family my wife will find hard to explain.", he grins and chuckles, then begins fumbling into the pocket of his waistcoat for something.

"I know you won't miss me, pretty girl like you...", he finally continues, "Must have boys fighting for you. But your presence brightened my days of recovery and for that I will always be grateful."

She watches him closely as the Fleming speaks of his family, perceiving his pride with attentive eyes. His jest is met with a polite chuckle, but not a very heart-felt one. Ophelia could easily be his own child, regarding the years that seperate them in age. Still, when she raises her gaze to meet that of Chlodric after his last remark her cheeks look a little rosy, as if that confession had managed to make her blush. "I am glad it has." And then after a pause, she adds with a little sigh: "And now I am to be deprived of your presence. I will miss it, Sir."

As if by coincidence, her chaperone puts her hand on Ophelia's shoulder in a gesture that could be assuring or protective. "You won't be alone, my Ophelia. Your Maryse will continue to watch over you, dear.", she says with a warm smile.

Chlodric smiles at the chaperone's words and nods. "Indeed, you will not be alone, Mylady. And..." Now the big man seems to blush a little too, or could it just be the golden morning sun on his face? But he does finally find what he had been searching for and holds it out to Ophelia: It's a small but exquisite carving of the symbolic Lion of Flanders made of fine local olive wood. There's a tiny hole in the lion's head so that the pendant can be affixed to a thin leather strap. "Pray for my safe journey home, if you will, Mylady. I will pray that you'll find happiness." He bows deeply, then hurries off before she can reply again. Wouldn't do for a young lady to see him all choked up. Besides, he has a boat to catch.

Ophelia's eyebrows twitch upwards in surprise when she finds herself presented with the gift, and she stands there, hesitating for a moment before she extends her right arm to accept it; grasping it lightly with her long fingered hand, carefully avoiding to touch his fingers while she takes the lion pendant. "Tis... beautiful, Sir. I will... think of a safe place where I can keep it. And whenever I will look at it it will remind me of that valiant knight who wore my favour at that Tourney on St Zachary's day. I am afraid I have nothing to offer to you in turn but my good wishes. May the Lord watch over your journey home, Sir Chlodric, and let you find your family in good health and your estate the way you left it." The young lady-in-waiting swallows hard and lowers herself into a curtsey in response to his bow. It might be a good thing after all that the Flobecq is so quick to leave, as it prevents him from seeing her eyes getting all flooded until one single tear is spilled and leaves a wet trace on her pale cheek.

"Farewell, my Lion of Flanders..." she mutters, more to herself as he certainly can't hear her now; her arms instinctively wrapped around her waist to lend her the support she so desperately needs.

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