(2018-05-09) On Marriage
"If it were only as easy as breeding cows!" - Cristofano di Sabastino
Conte Cristofano di Sabastino invites his sister, Contessa Marsilia di Farro, to lunch. After catching up for a bit, he gets to the true reason for his invitation.
Misc Info:

A courier wearing the colors of House Sabastino brought a lunch invitation to Contessa Marsilia di Farro from her brother, the Conte di Sabastino, and, in anticipation of her acceptance, the count has arranged for a private meal for the two of them in the great hall. The large family table on the dias has been abandoned on this occasion and a smaller table has been set near the paned doors that open onto the gardens, the spring breeze invited to swirl in and play with the fringes of the tablecloth.

It is there that Cristofano sits when Marsilia is admitted to the room, listening idly to the song of bird in the garden beyond. Small platters of fruit and meats have been placed before him, along with a bottle of white wine and a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Despite the busy schedule of her new life in a new family, Marsilia delights in the very idea of being closer to her blood kin, or at the very least, to bask in the familiarity of her childhood memories. So when the invitation from her brother is received, she is more than eager to put aside any work that is left to be done, ledgers to look over, and take this brief moment to recapture some of that magic of her youth.

It's not a long trip from the Farro villa to that of her brother's and she enjoys the walk all the same. The weather is beautiful today and she hopes that this will help to booster her mood for the rest of the day going forward. Being greeted and then escorted into the grand hall by one of the servants, the young woman trails gracefully in the direction of where her brother is seated, one of her usual small smiles playing on her lips, "It was both a surprise and a pleasure to have received your invitation, dearest brother."

Cristofano rises smoothly at the sight of his sister, a warm smile softening the blunt features of his face. "I had regrets that we were not able to speak more fully at the Feast," he admits, holding out his arms for her. "I was so busy with our other guests that I did not get to learn how you are faring in your new life with House Farro. I didn't want you to think I was not interested."

Stepping in close to her brother, Marsilia's own arms greeting him in a gentle embrace, she pauses a moment to look up at his ever welcoming features as she listens to him speak. "The feast was a great success and I was thrilled to learn that the Prince would be in attendance, but not surprised in the very least that our family would be graced by his presence." That said, she withdraws slowly to settle down into a chair beside her brother's. Here, her gaze looks out towards the garden, "While I do not wish for you and anyone in the family to fret over me, I am pleased that you are curious about how I've been settling in. That makes me happiest of all."

Cristofano bestows a gentle kiss to each of his sister's cheeks, then helps with pulling out her chair before taking his own. He blows out a long, slow breath and gives her a look of chagrin. "Truth to tell, I was exceedingly lucky to get him here. Words have never been my forte, but the Three blessed me on the day I went to speak with him. And again at the Feast." He shakes his head and gives a lopsided smile. "I'm sure my fortune will balance out soon enough."

Reaching for the bottle, Cristofano pours them each a glass of white, apparently content to perform the service himself so that they may enjoy their privacy. "Though I have not had much opportunity to speak with him, I like your husband, the Conte. He seems attentive to you," he notes with approval.

"Oh, it was now Arabella's sweetness and charm that drew the Prince to your feast?" Marsilia says with a faint touch of humor in her tone, though surely she jests! That lightness does fade into something more serious, which often tends to do with his particular young woman who can be far too stern for her young years. "You continue to grow as a leader, Cristofano. I've watched you from the days where you spent far too many hours in the stables to now, having grown into your responsibilities." Her eyes idly watch the wine now being poured, before she adds, "The Three look kindly upon those who work hard to improve themselves." The topic of her husband comes up just as Marsilia takes her first sip of wine. "He's been very accommodating since our marriage. He's often very tied up in his work as he's one with a strong mind for business."

"Well, if you ever get lonely, please know you are welcome at the palazzo any time. I know I am not the only one who misses and would enjoy spending time with you." Cristofano offers a smile and a bow of his head in thanks for her kind words, then sips gently at his wine. "I am glad that you mention business, however. I would very much like to meet with your husband to see if a favorable trade deal can be reached. Between the Feast and the matter of hiring mercenaries to look into this Golden Boar business, I've little to trade with this month, but it would be nice to get a deal in place by the summer, if you think the Conte your husband might be willing."

"I could only imagine the resources that went into holding such a fine feast, but then again, that's why it was such a success." Marsilia says, with a distant look; perhaps doing some calculations in her mind. That thoughtful look returns upon her soft features as she nods once, "I'm certain that Vittore will be looking forward to a trade some time in the near future…" She pauses in slight hesitation, before she lowers her voice to speak, as if anyone else were listening in on their conversation at this very moment, "While we did not throw such a grand gathering for the populace, I believe, but I can't be completely certain, that there may be a thief in our midst." Her brow furrows lightly now with an annoyed intensity, "Some of our silk has gone missing."

Cristofano's head tilts and his brow furrows. Instinctively, he leans forward just a little bit as her tone becomes confidential. "That is…disturbing. Do you have any sense of who might be behind it? Do you feel like you know the household staff well enough to learn if any of them might be involved?" Reaching out, he picks up the loaf of bread and roughly pulls a chunk off of it for his plate, then helps himself to some fruit and a small helping of cold lamb.

Setting her glass down upon the table, Marsilia has had enough drink for the moment. Though she attempts to keep to a calm and neutral demeanor, the way that her jaw tenses, as does her entire body, may prove otherwise. "I would like to think that I know the household staff well enough, but with my marriage, new staff were hired to assist me in various matters. So I cannot say that we've found out exactly who or how many may be involved in this," Here her chin lifts and lets out a soft sigh, "And frankly, I don't want to insult the Farros by pointing fingers at any of their servants as many have been with them for as long as they can remember, but we will be questioning them in the near future."

Cristofano listens, nodding slowly. "I appreciate your predicament," he says by way of consolation, reaching a hand out to give one of hers a gentle squeeze from across the table. "If there is any way we can help you, I hope you will not be shy to say so. You may be a Farro now, but you will always be a Sabastino." He gives a fleeting smile, then leans back in his chair. "Did I tell you we have taken a ward? Zayna Margolin. She was sent to mother, but apparently mother finds her to be too wild and unlady-like, so she has been sent here instead. I met her very briefly, but she seems nice enough."

The warmth and firmness of her brother's squeeze upon her small hand gives Marsilia some reassurance. "I just ask you to be wary. As our households are not so far from one another, perhaps you may be able to notice if something seems odd when traveling past our villa. I would hate for this to happen to your," there's a pause, before she decides to state, "our family as well." She finally allows herself another drink from her glass, "It will take some time and effort to recoup what was lost. It just means that we work harder. Now that this little warning is out of the way, the next topic does get her to raise a brow, "Oh? A ward? From where?"

"Sumrov. Apparently her parents have aspirations and want her to grow up in a civilized household." Cristofano shrugs. "She likes animals, which makes her good in my book. Anyway, if you see her around, or coming into or out of the palazzo, don't be alarmed. And introduce yourself if I do not get the chance to make the introduction first." He eats some more of his food, chewing idly, then changes the subject yet again. "I will be travelling to Viergues in the next few days to look into the issues with the Company of the Golden Boar there, so I will likely not be around for a few days."

Taking this time to relax somewhat, with the change of topic to something lighter… for the time being, Marsilia takes a bit of fruit to nibble on as she ponders on this new girl in the family. "Interesting and admirable on her family's part. If I were still living under this roof, I am sure that Arabella and I could work wonders on this girl, but then again, Arabella can probably do so on her own." She then adds, "If she's not taking away the other gambler's winnings at cards." Another sip of wine soon follows! "Ah, the Golden Boar. Will this be a dangerous mission? I was thinking of looking into it, but I'm not sure if I'd be allowed to venture with the group myself."

"I hope it will not be," Cristofano says, shaking his head. "I believe the company is only acting out of boredom and, when confronted with a real force will be repentant. If they are not…" He trails off with a shrug. "I have made sure we will be well outfitted, and I am also hopeful that we will not be the only house sending milita to aid the town. Do you know if your husband intends to do so?"

Marsilia will just have to take her brother's assement of the situation as truth, thus nods slowly to show her understanding. "If Vittore does plan on sending his own militia, he has said nothing to me about it. Though, it would be a grand endeavour on his part to do so." That familiar petulant pout begins to form on her lips at this very thought of not being told, but she shakes this off quickly enough. "If he does plan to, then of course, I will be tasked to overlook the household in his absence. I will certainly inquire with him about it when I see him next." Despite that brief wave of displeasure that had just washed over her, her voice warms when she says, "Just, be careful."

"I will be," Cristofano says with assurance. In truth, he seems more comfortable with the idea of going out to fight than staying and running the house. That assurance seems to leave him with a good excuse to change the subject yet again, so he cocks his head and regards his sister for a moment before saying, "So, tell me. You must have your fingers on the pulse of the city. What are you curious about or interested in at the moment. Have you heard any interesting rumors?"

"Aside from the fact that there may be thieves stealing their way into our abodes and disappearing with our finest silks?" Marsilia says with a firmness in her tone to help convince herself that there are indeed thieves about and not just a miscalculation on her part! Then out of all of the things that she has going on in her mind, she decides to pick one of them, "What do you know of this Raffiano, was it? The man whom I saw dancing with our sweet sister during the night of the feast?" She takes yet another sip of her wine as mild interest can be heard in her voice, "I am merely curious. I don't believe I know the man."

"I only met him once, briefly," Cristofano says after mulling the name over for a moment. "One of Diana's pups got loose and he helped to catch the rascal. He went on a fair bit about his ability to handle a weapon, but other than that, I don't recall much about him. Maybe a touch rough around the edges." He studies Marsilia for a moment. "Why do you ask? Just keeping an eye out for your older sister?" A smile flits about his lips, then fades. "Not that she couldn't use some looking after. By the Three, she was certainly casual about mentioning her gambling at the Feast."

Marsilia cannot help but shake her head, not so much in disappointment in her sister, but moreso that she, herself, can do little to curb some of Arabella's antics. "Well, it's difficult to place blame on him as the one who introduced Arabella to cards, for she had a knack of such games even before either of us had met this one." On the whole topic of gambling, she is quick to note, "I do hope that these games are being played in the salon or even the garden for that matter rather than at some… tavern." Her nose wrinkles slightly at this. "I would definitely encourage her to host such games in the safety of our fine gardens or the like to ensure that she surrounds herself with civilized company."

That said, she returns back to the topic of Raffiano, "Nevertheless, from what little I've seen of their interaction, Arabella seems to like the man. To what extant, I do not know, but I will most certainly keep an eye out on him."

Cristofano listens quietly, then nods slowly. "I would appreciate it if you would keep an eye out for her." He quickly holds up a hand. "Not that it is your responsibility, mind you. Only that I only have two in my head and I need them for other things most of the time. I will watch, myself. And, maybe I will have a quick word with our sister to gather her thoughts about this Raffiano. And, of course, to offer some suggestions about when and where to gamble." He finishes off the last of his lamb, then grows silent.

The silence stretches out for a moment and he pushes back from the table, fidgeting slightly. "There is, ah…one other thing I would ask your help with." He clears his throat roughly before continuing. "I fear I have put off the business of a family of my own for too long, and, as mother repeatedly reminds me, it is time I seek a wife. I would welcome your thoughts on who might be appropriate. And, of course, should you meet anyone here in the city that you believe has the requisite connections and disposition…" He trails off uncomfortably.

Content at Cristofano's promise to look into various items of interest surrouding their sister, Marsilia looks pleased. "Who knows, while I may not know much about cards myself, I may invite myself to some of these game nights that she throws. To better keep an eye on the company she keeps, especially if they are after the contents of what is inside her purse strings. But from what I've been told, she plays her hands wisely enough that, so far, this has been a rather profitable venture. If far too risky for my taste."

The fidgeting gains her attention first and foremost, thus drawing her curiousty all the more. If it continued further, she may have been forced to inquire, but it comes to a relief when her brother dares to speak the concerns on his mind. She does her best to hide a hint of smile on her features and continues on in the usual matter-of-fact voice that she tends to use, "There were moments in the past that I thought of bringing this topic up with you, but I thought it may be best to leave the picking and choosing to mother. However, I will certainly do what I can to help ensure that you find the most suitable match for the family. I've met a few young ladies of good repute and will look further into the matter." Her gaze lifts to meet that of her brother's once more, "Only the best for our family."

Cristofano practically sags with relief. "Thank you, Marsilia. I know it is a lot to ask, but I know you will know what to look for and I—" He breaks off and flushes red, "I have no idea how to go about any of this. If only it were as simple as breeding cows!" Probably not something he should say in front of any potential brides. He clears his throat roughly to hide the lingering effects of embarrassment about the conversation. "Thank you for coming to lunch. We should make sure we do this regularly."

"I suppose some of us are lucky that this very decision is left out of our hands." Marsilia says in regards to marriages of convenience and perhaps, even her own marriage! "So the process is made much easier. In your case, however, only the most intelligent, talented and… beautiful," she can only assume that this is what her brother is most looking for, "will do." To the very mention of cow breeding, she says in a hurried tone, "Don't let them hear you say that. Unless, they have a love for animals as great as your own." Taking one final sip of wine, she gracefully pulls herself up to stand, "For now, though, I need to return to my duties and do further investigation on this missing silk. I do look forward to spending more time with you and the rest of the family. Hopefully, next time, I will be able to meet with this Zayna, the little ward." This last part sounds almost ominous.

"Very well," Cristofano says, rising smoothly. Leaning in, he bestows a last kiss on his sister's cheek, then walks her to the courtyard. "Thank you, again, Marsilia, for coming…and for agreeing to help. I will keep an eye on your palazzo as well. And, of course, if I hear anything or see anything out of the ordinary, I will let you know."

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