05.07.3013: Tales Of Drakes & Toy Horses
Summary: Ellinor and Nikomachos have their first date.
Date: 07 May 3013
Related: None specifically.
Nikomachos Ellinor 

Common Room, the Rose Inn
Stepping through the artistically carved rosewood doors, there is no doubt that this inn is for the affluent. Roses are the predominant theme; they are carved into the wood and painted on the walls with their fresh counterparts kept in vases and bowls spread throughout. The floors are dark, polished woods. Directly before the small foyer is a graceful wooden staircase that leads up to the guest rooms. To its left is the main dining room where a full service menu is served, but only at breakfast and dinner. All the tables and chairs are crafted of solid wood with roses carved out of the chair backs, and table and chair legs; rose-colored velvet upholsters the seats, and they are amazingly comfortable.

Opposite of the dining room, on the other side of the stairs, is the barroom where lunch is served in the afternoons and drinks are served all day long. There is a pub-style bar that runs the entire length of the room with blush-tinted mirrors that reflects the entire room in a rosy hue. Seating includes the barstools, various sized tables, and a small cluster of chairs and sofas around the mastercrafted hearth. Attached to the barroom is a private salon that can be reserved for meetings or intimate meals.

May 7, 3013

Nightfall in the city of Landing is a brilliant affair, with multi-colored lights gleaming and glittering all about, one could be excused for thinking the city enchanted. Contrarywise to the spray of color that infuses the night, Nikomachos Cindravale has attired himself in something a great deal more subdued than his usual attire. Subdued, however, does not mean casual, as the cut and embroidery makes it a great deal more fancy than the simple black color might suggest. He waits just outside the door to the Rose Inn, his horse already sent around to the stables. His thumbs are tucked into the flaming horse buckle of his upper-most belt, and he waits with all indication of patience.

Though this is the very city she grew up in, Ellinor is still often dazzled by the night scape in Landing. She walks beneath the glow and glitter with a kind of calm and centeredness despite the fact she is marching herself into a first date. The warmth of the night has resulted in her draping her jacket over her arm rather than wearing it. As she nears the Rose Inn, she slows her strides just a bit to start combing her fingers through her simple red locks. When her eyes alight on the subdued-dressed knight, she has to smile. "Sir Nikomachos," she greets formally as she closes the gap between them.

Nikomachos catches his eyes on the approaching knight, and they cannot help flick down to the brass armband and the bare arms it emphasizes. Smiling in welcome, he steps up to greet her, holding out one hand, "Sir Ellinor." A smile settles onto his lips even as he tsks softly, "I really did think that we had made a breakthrough to Niko. I shouldn't like to tire out your lips with the whole mouthful, not when there is a whole night ahead of us to talk."

Ellinor reaches out to take his offered hand. "Right… Niko," she says with a quirk of a smile on her lips. She steps up closer to him as she glances over toward the inn with a tilt of her chin. "Oh, we're planning on talking?" She asks with a bit of a smirk taking over that smile. "I thought we were going to be avoiding that."

Nikomachos turns her hand palm-down over his own, bowing over it to brush his lips lightly over her knuckles, then straightens up once more, guiding her hand to tuck into the crook of his left arm, "Avoiding talking? Now why in Haven would I want to do that? Haven't you heard, we Valen love the sound of our own voices." The door is opened by one of the guards on duty outside, and Niko moves to escort the Sauveur inside, "And I suppose it would only be polite and courteous — you've heard that we're the epitome of polite courtesy, right? — to allow you to speak some as well."

A soft pink blooms at the apples of her cheeks at the gentle brush of his lips to her hand, and she inclines her head gently. Once her hand is hooked around his arm, her other hand joins it. "Oh, I have certainly heard about the affection you have for the sound of your voice… wasn't there a Knight several years ago who talked through the entire melee-on-foot?" She smirks a bit before she gives his arm a soft squeeze. "But, thank you for giving me the option to speak now and then… that is very, very gracious of you." She steps into the inn, pausing within the foyer to take stock of the familiar common room before they are approached by one of the dinner hostesses. Ellinor announces that they have a reservation, and the woman brightens at the sight of 'Sauveur' on the list. She starts to direct them toward a cozy corner table.

Nikomachos nods, "Myrick the Mouth." He follows the server along, although he steps away from Ellinor's side to advance and hold out her chair himself, rather than letting the server do it. He murmurs a "Thank you, Miss," to the server, then focuses his attention back on the Sauveur, "Another cousin. He's actually quite nice and polite in person. I think it's a persona that he puts on for the melee, to distract his opponents and draw their anger so they make mistakes." Once she has seated herself, and he has gotten a nice look at that clawed-up back, he steps around to take his own seat, unbuckling his swordbelt and hanging it from the back of his chair as he does, "It is the sole downside to the joust, there is so little room for psychological warfare."

Ellinor slides into the offered seat, giving the hem of her skirt a little tug as she gracefully crosses one leg over its twin. "Right… Myrick the Mouth!" She smiles comfortably as she leans back into her seat. "I actually wanted to go against him, but I was taken out of the runnings rather quick that tourney." She offers him a quirk of her lips. "And I don't know about that. You could do some amazing things with armor to intimidate your opponent across the field." She straightens up a bit as their waiter approaches, already bearing a dark blue bottle of Sauveur white. Ellinor actually sighs just under her breath, but presents the man with a warm smile as he sets the bottle down. "My Lady, My Lord," he greets with a gentle incline of his head.

Nikomachos tilts his chair back ever-so-slightly, bracing one spurred boot against the base of a table-leg, "I believe everyone wanted a piece of the Mouth that melee. And yet there are always those who are willing to strike distracted fighters from behind. I do recall several people falling to such attacks while they were trying to fight their way to the Mouth." The mention of intimidation in a joust has him waving one hand a little dismissively, "Oh certainly, someone wearing Aggressor armor could have an ever-shifting pattern that drew the lance naturally out to the edges of the armor, but that would be dirty pool." Even if the game itself has not survived the travel from Old Earth, the saying certainly has. "It may be a distinction few would see, but while I'm perfectly fine distracting my opponent with words, visual tricks seem…" He shrugs helplessly, looking over the wine and arching a questioning eyebrow at the woman across the table from him.

Their topic of conversation is halted for a few moments as the waiter pours them both cups of wine, leaving the bottle on the table. He leaves them both with menus as well, spouting out various specials for the night, and leaving the two to mull everything over. Ellinor looks up at the arching brow and she shrugs her shoulders. "The name Sauveur carries something, you know," she says softly. "My cousins would demand far more than just a mere bottle of wine… or at least Janelle would. Emund's wife really brought him down to earth," she says softly before she takes up the wine cup. "So, what is it about the joust that attracts you so?"

Nikomachos listens to the specials, nodding politely and thanking the waiter as well once he has finished. That allows the Valen to focus his attention back on his companion as he reaches out to gather up his wineglass, swirling the pale liquid within, "It's good to dine with a Sauveur then. Too bad I already promised to pay for dinner, given your current attire." The question draws a thoughtful frown onto the young man's face, and he buys time by starting, "The glory, certainly. Nowhere else do you find millions of people focusing intently on you and you alone. But that's not all of it. There's something… clean… about it. I don't mean a lack of dirt, either. A single knight facing off against another knight, one charge at a time. There's a clarity and a focus to placing your lance just right. A singularity. I think that's what I like."

"Too bad indeed," Ellinor says with a quirk of her lips before she settles back into her seat. She sips at her own wine, considering the knight over the edge of the glass as he shares his view on the tournament. "Huh," she says at first, taking another drink of the wine as she lets those thoughts settle. "I can see that," she finally offers. "I've only ever jousted twice… and I was knocked off my horse within the first couple passes." She folds her fingers around the stem of her glass. "I suppose that has spoiled my view of the joust a bit… it is a pain in the ass to get yourself out of that dirt."

Nikomachos raises his eyebrows slightly at her thoughtful response, "And here you thought we Valen were just pretty faces." He nods slowly, "Jousting is not a task for those who dabble. Of course, I'm sure that the same could be said for hunting drakes." Pausing there to take a sip of the wine, consider it, and nod approvingly, he pushes on, "What is it that draws you to such excitement? I can tell you right now that jousting has never marked my skin in such intriguing patterns as your own hobby of choice…"

Ellinor casts him a dubious smile as she takes another swallow of wine. "I squired under my Uncle Bryon in the Crescent, and he had already been a fan of the hunt." She twirls her glass a bit between the careful framing of her fingers. "So, when I was his squire, he started to take me out on the hunt. It was… I don't know… different. I commend the Arboren for their hunts of the wild stags and boars, but the drakes are… intelligent and cunning. It is a challenge, and I suppose…" She breathes out a sigh. "My only challenge up to that point was that I was a Sauveur. The drakes don't care whose blood is in my veins." She looks up after a beat pause. "To which I'm sure you think is a silly complaint."

Nikomachos hasn't even looked at his menu, or even lifted it up from the table. One hand is busy twisting his wineglass back and forth slightly, sending the liquid within lapping and swirling idly, and the other is draped over one arm of his chair, "So the same reason to hunt wild boar or lion. The danger." The words that follow, however, draw his brows down in a curious frown, "I don't know that I could consider it a silly complaint or not without understanding it. Just how is it that you see being a Sauveur as a challenge, Ellinor?"

"I'm the daughter of King Symion's sister," Ellinor says, a bit hushed. "My responsibilities are to maintain the pride and glory of the Royal House. My mother cringes at the idea that I might be called to the front lines when the Hostiles come." She lifts her gaze toward him with a shrug of her shoulders. "I became a Knight because I knew that I would see war in my lifetime, and because it was for the survival of the System, but I don't imagine I will be allowed to come blade to blade with a Hostile until it is the last possible moment." She offers him the smallest quirk of a smile. "Like I said… it is silly." She finally glances down at the menu.

Nikomachos frowns heavily, "You think they would keep you out of the fight? Because your death might have an impact on morale throughout the system?" The young man shakes his head, bringing his free hand up to pull the spiked front of his hair upward a touch as he thinks, "We Valen take the opposite view. We are there to defend the Citizens beneath us. If we cannot do that, then what use are we? While I doubt the High Lady will take the field — no matter how much she would enjoy it — I have no doubt that Solon and Mirana will face the Hostiles, as will we cousins. We are the Generation of Vengeance… to hold us from that vengeance…" His lips curl down into a faint mueue of distaste, "I can't imagine that Her Highness would hold us back…"

Ellinor looks up with the slightest arch of a brow. "You've not met my mother… she wants nothing more than to see her children survive this." It is then that she relaxes into a smile. "I will fight, I will face them… but my mother was so pleased to have daughters, assuming that at worse she would have to consider the death of her son… even Lyrienne gave her some cause to relax as she did not seek to warmonger. But… I broke the mold in that case." She shrugs her shoulders a bit. "I will fight, and I will fight alongside the rest of those who would protect Haven, but I have had to find ways to convince my mother that this is what I signed up for."

Nikomachos frowns in thought, taking another sip of his wine, then setting the glass aside. "I don't think any of us plan to die. If we do, we do, so long as it is in defense of those who count on us for protection." There's a pause, and then he inquires, "Your mother did not learn this from your father at the last? The Khourni, for all of their perceived failings," 'perceived,' of course, because the woman across form him is half-Khourni, "do tend toward a very pragmatic view of life, especially concerning mortality and the duty of a fighting man." The Sauveur is saved from immediate response as the waiter returns, and the Valen gestures across the table for her to order first.

The Sauveur opens her mouth to reply, but then she is silenced by the arrival of the waiter. She glances down at the menu before looking back up at him with a quirk of a smile. "I'll take the venison, please… and a pint of winter wheat." She then glances toward the Cindravale to place his own order, and once the waiter steps away does she feel relaxed enough to answer. "Don't get me wrong here, Niko," she says gently. "I don't agree with my mother, and my father is as pragmatic as is expected from the Khournas House. He was the one who suggested I squire with my uncle in hopes of me learning that pragmatic view." She straightens up a bit in her seat, leaning her weight onto her elbows. "Beyond the thrill and danger, and honest to Gods exhilaration, I suppose I started hunting drakes because it was a way to try to ease my mother into those pragmatic views of life, of mortality."

"Sailfish. A light braise, white wine or citrus." Nikomachos hasn't even checked to see if it's on the menu, although the waiter seems to take it in stride. "And another bottle of this fine wine." And then it's just the pair of them again, and the Valen is nodding slowly, leaning forward to point half-around her side, "And how did your mother take those?" Evidently he's referring to the scars, "I can't imagine it went well. I assume, as well, that there's a rather epic story behind them, and that when you're comfortable enough, you might actually tell it." Leaning back in his chair again, he tsks softly, "But I won't beg. I'm not that sort."

Ellinor takes another sip of her wine, before shaking her head with a faint curve of her lips. "Like how you begged that I accept this dinner invitation," she teases, knowing that she was actually the one who prompted the occasion. She spreads her fingers of one hand across the tablecloth as she considers the story request. Then she shakes her head a bit. "Alright, but realize that you are a very lucky man to be awarded such as tale…" She flashes him a more earnest grin before she reaches for the wine bottle, offering to fill up his own glass. "It was about three years ago during the hatching season," she begins. "I had gone up to the nests around one of the calderas…"

Nikomachos laughs lightly, nodding his head and raising his glass in salute, "Exactly like that." Holding out his glass in response to her offer, he nods once, then settles back in his chair to listen, letting the aroma of the wine waft up from where the glass is cradled close to his chest, "Hatching season… is that the usual time for a hunt?" Even as he asks the question, he waves it off, "Nevermind. My apologies for the interruption. Please, continue as you will."

Ellinor shakes her head a bit, offering a wry smile. "It isn't, and I wouldn't dare hunt during that season… but…" And she shifts almost uncomfortably. "The hatchlings are rather… endearing." She then shakes her head, flourishing out her hands a bit to continue the story. "So, I had staked out a place to watch the hatching. It was very hot and dry, which is the ideal environment for the eggs to be kept. The broodmother had left to hunt before the drakelings were expected." She rolls her shoulders a bit, remembering the warmth of the caldera. "She spotted me though."

Nikomachos laughs again at the admission, but he's smart enough (barely) not to say 'women' in a wry tone. Instead, he smothers his laughter in one hand, holding up the fingers of his hand with the wineglass in defense. As she continues, he controls his mirth, his gray eyes still sparkling as he listens, but no more laughter bursting forth. Instead, he merely nods to show that he's following along with the story, listening intently.

Ellinor does cast him a dangerous little look as the laughter begins. "Oh, you laugh… but just you wait until you see them for yourself," she warns. Though she does relax into a smile as she fills her own wine glass. "So. She spots me," she continues onward with dedication. "And I start to panic because I didn't exactly come prepared for a standoff with a broodmother. Against one of the males, I might have managed alright, but the broodmothers are the worse, most territorial, and fierce of the breed." She takes a swallow of wine. "She swoops down at me, and all I can do is scramble to my feet and make a run for it. Rocks are slipping under my boots, and I feel a sudden burst of heat just behind me where her drakefire missed me by a couple of feet. I remember where there is a small cubby in the rocks where I might be able to hide."

Nikomachos arches his eyebrows at the announcement that he will be drake-hunting in his near future, but he doesn't comment on that. Oh no, what he comments on is the description of the broodmother, "So, just like humans?" He can't quite manage to make the words flat and dry, instead a light teasing note creeping into his tenor. He doesn't interrupt further, at least not yet, merely nodding along with the story as he leans forward a little in his chair.

Ellinor pauses to cast the Valen another look. "Yes, just like human." Then she continues without missing a beat. "I'm racing toward the break in the rocks while the mother is still flapping after me, and just as I dive into the break, just as the mother closes her claws on my back. She has to release in order to avoid slamming into the rocks herself, and that is how I got the scars." She takes another swallow of wine while her eyes remain locked on him to see his reaction.

Nikomachos nods at the description of the event, baring his teeth a little in a sympathetic wince, "And you weren't wearing armor, because you were just there to watch the hatching." Another touch of wine makes its way between his lips, over his palate, and own his throat, "How did you get out? Did the broodmother find its hatchlings more important, or did you just wait it out?"

"A little of both," Ellinor admits with a bit of a nose-wrinkling. "Eventually she realized I was not worth the wait, and that her hatchlings were about to, well, hatch." The Sauveur Knight shakes her head a bit as she glances out the window of their corner booth as a collection of youths tumble past with a crescendo of laughter. When she looks back, she does so with a relaxed smile. "But that's the story. Needless to say that, no, my mother never really gotten over that. I was careless, going up there without proper protection."

Nikomachos tilts his chair back again now that the story has come to its conclusion, nodding slowly, "And just what is proper protection from a broodmother drake? A unit of heavy cavalry over the next hill? A half-dozen archers? A siege blaster? I know perilously little about drakes. I assume that if they're hunted, it's something less than those three. Do you usually hunt them with bow and arrow? Hand weapons? Blastars?"

Ellinor laughs at the series of questions, raising a hand gently to stall him a bit. "First, I almost never hunt a broodmother. They are dangerous and best left to a more natural predatory cycle." She looks up as the waiter comes sweeping their way with a tray filled with their orders. The Sauveur leans back, allowing the man to set down her plate of venison complete with a ricelike pasta and some vegetables. She waits until Nikomachos's own plate is set down and the waiter steps away. "Blasters," she says with a nod of her head. "And Aggressor armor. With a sword or lance back-up."

Nikomachos eyes the fish, orzo, and green vegetables that is delivered to him, then nods his head, setting down his glass of wine and thanking the waiter. Considering what he was just told, the Cindravale scion wrinkles his brow slightly, "Blasters. Hrmph. I've never understood the attraction of hunting something from hundreds of meters away. But you say lances? So there are enough drakes down in flat territory for destriers to charge on, or are the lances used defensively, like spears? And Aggressor armor? Not the Defender that you or I use? Are shields somehow not useful against their flame?" Laughing lightly, he waves away the second torrent of questions, "I have mentioned that I enjoy hunting, right? Riding down a lion with a lance, or bracing against a board with a spear… quite exhilerating."

Ellinor unravels her utensils from her rose-colored napkin. She lays it across her lap before she plucks up her fork and knife. His series of questions invoke a bright laugh, and she starts to mix together the vegetables and orzo together into a healthy blend. She shakes her head a bit. "It isn't that the shields don't work on them… in fact, the combination of the shield and field work fairly well, but… I find the combination a bit… I don't know. It takes the challenge out of the hunt." She starts to cut into her venison. "There are some drakes that fly down into the flat territories to hunt, so there is a possibility to charge them down."

Nikomachos sits across from Ellinor at one of the corner tables, their meal having just been delivered to them, but a bottle of white wine well on its way to being demolished between them. He shrugs a little helplessly at her laughter, "Well then I suppose I have to try to talk my cousin into purchasing me a suit of Aggressor armor for whenever I go drake-hunting. It wouldn't do for a Valen to take things on 'easy mode.'" Flaking away a portion of the fish on his plate with a fork, he sops up a bit of the light sauce, "I think it would be much more traditional, of course, to charge a scaley fiend on horseback and spit it with a lance." The fact that it suits his professed talents much better than fighting on foot has nothing to do with it, nothing at all.

"And which maiden will you be rescuing from the clutches of the terrible drake when you do that?" She asks, though she isn't able to keep a straight face for long as an amused smile starts to curve at her lips. She dunks her own chunk of venison into her own little cup of sauce, mixing it up with the orzo and veggies. "You should try to have a suit in the next month or so… the juveniles take their flight all the way to the Black Wastes."

Nikomachos chews, swallows, and laughs, "I don't know. I'm rather loathe to risk little Xenona, I have to admit that I'm far too polite to inquire as to which of the lovely ladies around me meet that criteria." Waving off the notion of a new suit of armor, he laughs, "I'll simply have to make due with my own Defender armor — we Valen aren't so rich as House Sauveur. I'm happy to take on another level of difficulty by ignoring the use of the shield, of course. No better way to prove yourself than to make things a little harder than they need to be." Leaning forward, he studies the mix developing on the Sauveur's plate, and laughs again, "Really? You like the melee so much that you must mix all your food together as well?" As if to prove his point, he takes a single spear of asparagus and bites the head off with a little clip of white teeth.

"I'm sure we can find someone to volunteer being the lovely maiden you rescue, though you'll have to handle everything that happens afterwards," Ellinor points her fork at him before she takes another bite of her meat even while he casts judgement on her eating style. She continues to chew as she gives him a glare. "It is how I have always eaten, Sir Nikomachos," she says as she takes another bite of her own mix of orzo and veggies, though she is well-groomed enough to not speak and eat at the same time. "You were the child who skipped about the Fortress of Phylon with a wooden lance and horse, pretending to joust everything that moves?"

"Immediately after violence, blood, and gore? That sounds… unhygenic." Nikomachos laughs easily, waving off the suggestion and his matched complaint, "I wasn't saying you way was wrong, just… illuminating, Sir Ellinor." At the question, he blinks once, pausing with his fork halfway back up to his mouth, "Well of course. Then again, I imagine that was far more common at the Fortress than it was around the Royal Palace. I think the lance and horse had both seen at least a dozen generations by the time I picked them up."

Ellinor laughs brightly at his initial comment, and she shakes her head a bit. "You could wash up first." Then she casts him a softer smile, tilting her head a bit. "Ellie," she offers him quietly before she takes another mouthful of orzo and veggies, this time dipping it in a bit of the venison sauce. "And when did you get your first real lance?" She asks as she settles into a fonder smile.

Nikomachos laughs softly at the offered name, nodding his head, "Ellie, then. I promise I won't let your brother-in-law know." Between statements and questions, he picks not-quite-delicately at his own meal, keeping each type of food balanced and apart. "Now that depends on your definition of 'real.' The first time I used a practice lance was at age 10, but that was my uncle trying to teach me how much longer I would have to wait before I could use it. A war lance… 14, hunting for lion in the Fields of Mars." He goes on to tell that story, including a massive whiff on his first charge and nearly falling off his destrier trying to turn around. He chatters, he talks, he listens, he drinks.

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