(2018-05-01) After the Squall
Cristofano and Lorenzo meet on the docks in the aftermath of a late spring squall.
Misc Info:

They come suddenly, without warning or mercy, spring-time squalls on the Catellus Sea.

Late in the afternoon the storm struck like a hammerblow, turning the sea as dark as any blacksmith's anvil, and smashing unwary ships. The Maritime men and women of Matora did battle with the winds, and, thanks to their exceptional skills, most vessels were spared a watery grave. Still, few escaped without some small injury and in the wake of the storm, passing on as quickly as it arrived, bits of flotsam and jetsam float in the newly stilled waters of the harbor as the sun sinks in the west. Its light paints the sea the color of a bruise.

Conte Cristofaro di Sabastino was fortunate enough to find quick shelter when the squall hit, and has emerged from the shelter of the Siren's Song in the quiet aftermath, his gaze thoughtful as he watches sailors and dockworkers struggle to mend sails and secure riggings torn free by the fearsome winds. Those winds seem gentle now as they toy with his dark hair. At his side, patient and with intelligent eyes, rests a female hound, he head slightly cocked as she works to understand what her master is studying.

Squalls were always a welcome sight for Lorenzo as a child. They meant a crisp chill that heightened his awareness. A brief violence that altered the landscape he had always come to know too well. Solitude, if only briefly. It wasn't until he began working on the family ships, and especially so since he was given his own to command, that he came to describe them as a nuisance.

"Belay that rigging before we lose another!" "Don't just stand there, be useful!" His shouts and commands mix with the others being fired off throughout the dock, just another voice in a sea of frenzy. And though they are said with an authority that appears larger than the physical presence the young man offers, they are given without a beaming smile and an needed air of playfulness. Nothing is too far gone to not be fixed after all.

Moving from alongside the Gaspari merchant vessel, the damp Lorenzo edges closer to Cristofaro, though its the hound that grabs his attention. "That's a fine beast you have there," he says, offering the man a grin as he turns to watch his crew from afar.

Soulful brown eyes seek and discard a hundred different exchanges on the dock before the settle on Lorenzo, seeming to find a target at last. They narrow in study as the man barks commands to his crew, the conte's head tilting almost as much as his hound's as he listens to the timbre of the voice, studies the strength of the gestures. So wrapped is he in his contemplation of the young captain, that it takes him him a full three seconds to realize that Lorenzo's latest words have been for him. Cristofaro blinks.

"Oh. I—thanks. She has recently whelped and has not wanted to leave her pups but today she finally seemed ready," reaching down, he places a large and gentle hand on the short grey fur at the crown of the beast's skull, just behind the ears. "I was starting to wor…" Cristofaro trails off with a blush and a shake of his head. "Too much information. Apologies." His eyes travel to the vessel that Lorenzo is commanding. "Was she hurt much by the storm?"

For Lorenzo, it was not too much to hear about the hound's newborns and her recent need to stay close to them. He laughs, in fact, at Cristofaro's suggestion that it might be so. "Not at all," he says, happily enough. His demeanor now is in juxtaposition to that which he just presented to his crew, and it becomes clear that he is a more relaxed man away from work. Regarding his ship, though, he shakes his head and furrows his brow. "Nothing we can't clean up quick enough, though I'll admit lessons were learned. Next time we'll be more prepared."

With that, he turns to take a closer look at the man beside him, studying him for a moment, in fact, as that furrowed brow finds itself honing in on Cristofaro's profile. "Do we know each other?" he asks after a moment. "I could swear we've met at some function or another, but I can't place where." Shrugging, he offers his hand. "Lorenzo di Gaspari. Pleasure to meet you. *Both* of you."

"Ah! Forgive me." A slow red creeps up Cristofano's neck, disappearing beneath his beard only to crawl out the other side and up his cheeks. "Signore Lorenzo, of course we have met. I spend so little time on the docks, I was blind to the idea that any of my peers might be here. Apologies." His own hand is extended, large and rough, accustomed to work and the pommel, to take Lorenzo's. His grip is firm without being in any way crushing. "Conte Cristofaro di Sabastino." There is a brief pause. "And Diana." An ill-suppressed smile tugs his mouth slightly sideways as he nods to the dog. She, in turn, lifts her ears eagerly at the sound of her name.

"You handle your crew well," the Sabastini counte offers, his voice a deep rumble as he nods toward the ship. "Crisp, concise, specific, authoritative. If you will forgive me for admitting it, I was learning a great deal from you before you ruined my lessons with your greeting." The faintest ghost of a smile plays around his lips.

With their names having dropped, Lorenzo returns the shake with a firm one of his own, betraying his own status as a nobleman not unused to hard work. "No, you'll have to accept my apology," he says upon learning to whom he has made conversation with. "Yours is a name with a far hotter iron than mine." Then, to the dog, he crouches just a bit and offers the back of his hand. "And it's my pleasure, entirely, Diana."

Whether or not the hound accepts the hand, he rises a moment later to address the Conte's comments on his work. "Many thanks," he says. "It's my first command and I've been trying to find the right line to take with them." Here, he nods to the ship and the crew working to repair the storm damage. "I would be happy to give you a tour sometime, when things are less messy."

Diana sniffs the offered hand tentatively, and then extends a warm pink tongue to lick the the flesh of Lorenzo's hand, encouraged by the salty tang of the sea. Fortunately for the Gaspari, her owner continues to keep his own greeting much more reserved. Cristofano seems interested in the offer that is extended. "I would be very pleased for a tour. And perhaps a sail if it would not be too much trouble. Though my own interests tend to be more land-locked, I miss the ocean and have not been on the water in some time."

The Conte turns and gestures toward Palazzo that rises from the hillside above the docks, nestled between the sea and the river. "That is my family home here in Matora. I hope you will visit. In truth, I have few friends here in the city." A hand is quickly held up. "My own fault entirely. Still, you would be welcome. And I can promise you enthusiastic greetings from Diana's brood."

Lorenzo smiles at Diana's gentle licks, as any good-natured man would be when gaining the attention of a noble hound. "It would be my pleasure," he says of the sail. "Tell me, does your family have any land along the coast? Some grazing pasture? Perhaps that would be nice to see it from the sea." It's an offer that doesn't have any strings attached, or at least apparently so. Nonetheless, when a return offer is made to visit the puppies and the Conte's family home, he warms at the thought. "I would like that very much, thank you."

"Our family lands are to the northeast, and yes, along the coast. There is not much I wouldn't give for a sight of it." Cristofano's brown eyes betray his fierce hope that there is some truth in the offer. A whine from Diana pulls his attention away from his longing imagination, however. Suddenly assailed by the noise and the salt smell of the sea and her bounty, he sighs. "I should get her back to her pups and let you continue with much more important work." A nod is given to the sailing vessel. "Please do call on me. I know offers like that are often made as pleasantries, but I would welcome the company. And," he continues with a mischievous glint in his eye, "don't be surprised when I march down to the docks sometime and ask you for that sail. I'll do it."

And with that, the men part ways.

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