(2018-04-27) Matre eius necata, ad domum reddidit
In which the Contessa actually shows warmth and joy.
Isabella returns to Garden's side after spending nigh a year with her family.
Reference to the heir of Mercurea.
Misc Info:
Oh no! Girl talk!

The courtyard is one of the more common places to find the Contessa. She seems to enjoy working out-of-doors on the estate. Off of the grounds? Oh, no. But upon the manicured, safe grounds of the Gaspari manse? Certainly. Within the tamed beds, pruned and shaped trees? Yes. She is at home and in her element. The trees, plants, and flowers chosen for not just their appearance, but their scent. Some even from her own homeland of south Avicorse. Those that transported and managed to thrive within the rather different climate of the maritime cities that is. The canals of the city make it difficult for a lot of plant life, but the Gaspari family has not just the money… but the means as well for space. Some families may prefer their houses to be large block-like buildings right up against the river, but no. The Gasparis have chosen one in the palazzo style. Open to the sky above.

And thus, the Contessa sits upon a bench in the shade; skirt and coat arranged around her as she goes over some household reports brought to her by a steward. Already preparing for the party a couple weeks hence (provided the ship encounters no troubles).

Travel, oh how Isabella loathed it so and had yet done so much of it. Her posture nearly a year ago upon learning they would be moving was one that did little to hide her distaste for the notion. However, her own departure had been interupted. The death of her father and the necessity of returning to the Eastern Kingdoms for his burial had precluded her duties; a generous gift she had not expected in the privledge to make a pilgrimmage home before returning.

The voyage across the waters was long, then the time in the Kingdom, followed by a return to Avicorse and finally her arrival in Matora. That much travel should wear a woman down, and in many ways it had, but Isabella still carried her vibrancy in persona as she guided the mare that had been lent her through the arches into the Gaspari Plaza, dark eyes looking about eagerly. How could she not be eager? It had been just over a year of separation.

Garden has taken well to the current fashions of the Bergatino City States. How could she not? She's always been on the leading edge of such. How could she not have picked up on whatever is en vogue? The silks, the beadwork; it's all taking advantage of the money she's wed into. Not that she was lacking before. Aldana was not a poor house, either. The sound of hooves striking stone has her looking up and a rare smile shapes her lips, reaching to her eyes as she hands off the parchment to the waiting steward. "Go take this to the cook. He can start on the list as-is. I'll expect a full tasting for lunch tomorrow and we'll go from there."

Rising to her feet, she gestures to one of the hands to come in and gather the horse before it gets too far. The courtyard is meant more for people than horses, after all. And Isabella will need help with her things. But she's moving forward just far enough to be there and greet the young woman… and her friend. "I had begun to fear you might not come."

Isabella catches sight of Garden approaching, noting the smile that slightly appears and beaming herself; far less reserved with the emotional indicator but knowing what her friend's gesture means. Letting the horse reins go she walks across the distance twoards Garden with a step that is just a hair too fast for propriety, but definitely not a jog. She is not that loss of decorum. As she approaches, a good proper curtsey comes and the woman speaks. "You did not fear that. You knew I would come as soon as I could, as I always do."

The accent that she has always carried, the Eastern Kingdom lilt is much thicker now. Blended with that Avicorse as well from her upbringing, the odd heritage mixing into her tones. Once she is arms length away, Isabella's brow furrows and she shakes her head, "No no, this will not do at all. Where is your market vassal?"

"Or perhaps you would be so smitten with your childhood home that you would send word that you had decided to remain. Perhaps found yourself a dashing husband." Garden's own accent has et to change even a whit. It may not; all her life until the past year spent in Avicorse. She is old enough it may just soften out a bit. She does simply begin to reach for Isabella to draw the woman towards her. Proper to a fault, there are a few she will let that decorum slip for and her childhood friend is one.

Her brow does arch, however, at the fussing. "Busy. There is a party to plan for and I have but a couple of weeks, I am afraid. There is… quite a bit at work. The Sabastinos are taking the first of the season, but that is no matter. I do not want the first party of the season. I can attend their feast and see who is wearing what, who is courting whom, what fabrics and styles are being worn… and take notes. No. We shall have the second and it shall be themed." Garden flashes a smirk to Isabella.

"But there is more. News from the Eastern Empire. I do not know if you have heard." Her expression tempers, then, into something more serious.

Isabella's brow furrows a bit deeply, her darker skin causing it to be more pronounced but she does ease back some, hand reaching towards Garden's hair. "You have been keeping up with the goat milk and honey treatment? This climate… it does so much harm to one's hair." After a sigh her eyes look and she follows the leading of Garden.

"I have not heard of any news from the East. Mother and I returned straight to Avicorse after the rites and then I to here. There is not much news in four months of travel that has reached my ears."

Tilting her head so that Isabella can better reach her hair in its braid, Garden takes on an amused expression. "I have, yes. The salt from the water is a trial at times, I will admit." She takes a breath, turning slightly so she can lead to the nearby bench. "The heir of Mecurea is said to have fled with some of his guard. He came here on a ship. We would have thought he'd gone to Thassaldromo, but things in the Empire must be worse than reports said." She spreads her hands slightly. "One of the houses is sure to take him in, but-"

She takes a seat once at the bench, smoothing her skirts. "I believe Cosimo tried to get first audience, but was unsuccessful. That honor, we think, went to Sabastino. Though we have an invitation to dinner with them soon, my husband and I. We will try to curry favor. We have little interest in playing host, due to the dangers involved, but if we can at least… earn his ear, his favor, well." She folds her hands in her lap. "Either way. Him being in Matora is a dangerous thing indeed. And worrying for the state of the warring between Kataro and the Empire already. It may spread west."

"War always spreads dear…" Isabella catches herself and then with a small smile correct, "War always spreads Countess. That is why it is War. And when one is squashed another will rise up in its place, it is the way of men." Settling herself down once Garden has, the woman continues to fuss just a few moments over some of the ends of Garden's hair, tsking softly to herself before settling.

"If the heir is here, it is to court for assistance I would believe, yes? There may be favor to be gained, but just as much risk of embarrassment. If the Eastern Kingdom's issues were to fall on the doorsteps of one of the other houses, would that not give others worry?"

"It is a dangerous game indeed. And I doubt anyone wishes war brought to Matora. Nor to the City States on the whole." A place of art, industry, and science. They are not a people of war, much as men may be on the whole. Garden allows Isabella her fussing; happy to tolerate it as she always has. "I am uncertain how much the others are paying it mind. They have their own things to focus upon. So many seem to have their eyes turned to other matters that they all but ignore matters of state and especially the world."

She dips her head towards her maid. "I would like you to speak to the women in the other houses, if you may. See if they have seen or heard anything. I attempted to speak with the women, but you know how they can be. So many wish not to speak of things their husbands do."

A small smile touches Isabella's lips, barely an hour in her return and already tasked with listening. "Of course I will keep my ear to the ground, listen to what may or may not be transpiring. But this is not our home Contessa, it will take me some time to earn the ears of others." Settling her hands on her lap she blinks her dark eyes a pair of times, the most innocent smile ever on her face with an expectant look. Then finally she says, "Well. How is he?"

Lifting a hand, Garden reaches out to tweak gently at Isabella's hair. "What better way to earn those ears than to start now? And the people here would love to hear tales of your home, I am sure." She smiles, warmly; glad to have someone she trusts and feels comfort in around once again. "And you would be bored to just sit around with naught to do." At the expectant look she gives one of mere confusion in return.

…but only for a moment. There is laughter, then, as her hands drop back to her lap. "He is smart. He has a keen eye for what has value and what does not. You know my parents would not have allowed me paired with a bore or someone interested only in conquest and battle." She draws the sides of her coat closed, fussing at the hems a touch. "He is-" she gives the other woman a sharp look, "an attractive man, yes. But he is also an infuriating man, too."

"So in other words, he is a man?" Isabella asks with that teasing smile and playful glint to her eyes. The look lasts but a moment before she nods, reaching up to pat her hair knowing it must be a muss of a mess. "That is good however. Have you…" She pauses then straightens a bit, "Is he aware that you have a maiden that is of .. mixed descent? That does not concern?"

There's a flash of a smirk. "He is better than most men. He does not gamble his money away nor waste time in whorehouses. His brother, however…" Garden gives a shake of the head as she mentions Salvatore. "As for you, no. I do not think it will be an issue. The Gaspari fortune comes from trade with the neighboring countries and beyond, Izzy." A childhood name for her friend and maid." She reaches out to touch the woman's shoulder, lightly. "Not only are the men on the ships from all over, but some of those have gained rank upon those ships. He sees the value of man, not of his-" a pause and curl of lips, "or her country of birth. No. Cosimo is more concerned with what he may make his gold on. If anything, he will see value in the knowledge you may be able to impart because of where you are from."

Isabella nods her head, looking a bit relieved at the words and the relief comes in the form of a smile moments later. "That is good to know," her accent sounding heavier with the release of tension. "The travel was pleasant enough, to see one's homeland and to learn things from my family that I did not know before. But although it is where I am from, home is where you say."

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