Backdraft

Title: Backdraft
Time Period: January 18, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: There may be too much ego in this room.

Constance Rowntree does not frequent the Dovetail. Usually there's at least a ten foot perimeter around the building she won't even go into. It's not that she has anything against the ladies employed within (most of them at least). Really, it's just that the young woman would prefer to not know who frequents the establishment. Ignorance is bliss!

Today, however, the young woman has gained entrance into the Dovetail and stands posed at the very top of the house in front of the most unlikely of doors. She raps gently on the door, then pauses for an answer as she waits for an answer so she can continue with her most important of tasks.

The woman that comes to answer isn't really someone Constance might expect. Well it IS the person she's expecting, but it's somehow off. First, Luna is dressed rather plainly, for Luna. She's wearing no extra bits of lace, fancy feathers, or fur. She's showing no shoulder or cleavage, the way she usuallly does. Second, her layered skirts are a bit dirty at the knees and her hair is tied up in a cloth to keep it out of the way. She looks very much like the picture perfect humble maid from Eilean Donan. Lastly, Luna is sober. She doesn't smell heavily of perfume, drink, herbs, or smoke. Just soap and flowers. Her eyes are clear and pupils just the right size for this time of day.

One eyebrow quirks upward at the young woman on the other side of her door. "Well, you're definitely not the Rowntree I've been expecting," is the greeting that Constance gets. "Come in, I don't need you hanging about my threshold and giving folk the wrong idea… as much fun as it would be." She moves to the side of the door to allow the girl passage into her room.

"Aye, and step to. This isn't as light as it looks," Mariah says from behind, that unique voice cutting through the conversation. She's holding a bucket of water with a cloth or two draped over the side as she approaches the stairs.

Mariah seems a little different today, too, a bit more chipper than usual despite the obviously still healing split lip she's sporting. But then, the rumors are that she takes on the rougher clientele, so perhaps that's not too surprising. "Hey, if you're not going to let her hang out your doorway, she's welcome to hang around mine," she says toward Constance as she takes the opportunity to step past her and through the open door; her tone is teasing, as is the crooked smile she throws the girl. It's possible the whores haven't missed her tendency to avoid the place, and maybe jump on the opportunity to give her a hard time now that she's here. At least one of them, anyway.

"Oh, sorry!"

Constance's apology is for Mariah as she hurriedly steps into Luna's room and out of the doorway to allow the other woman passage. Her look of surprise at Luna's attire (and perhaps her sobriety) are clearly visible, as is the hint of a blush on her cheeks from the teasing. Even if the Rowntree can be bold, there are certain territories she hasn't quite gone near—likely another reason she avoids the Dovetail.

"I know this is a bit unusual," Constance begins. She steps further out of the way of the water buckets, looking between the two ladies of the night. "I'm not interrupting anything important, am I?"

The room still smells faintly of smoke, the bed still in need of sheets and therefore showing all the signs of the abuse it sustained nearly a week ago with wine. Near the glowing fireplace, a black spot in the flooring is still plainly visible. Luna seems a little bit amused at the teen's fluster. "Aye, you are but you can take a rag and lend a hand. Start polishing the silver on the dressing table." The door is closed behind Constance and Mariah both though the key in the lock isn't turned.

For her part, Luna gets back down on her hands and knees at the fire and continues to scrub at the floor with a wire brush. Soot and burn scrape up off the wood but not enough to make the spot unnoticable. "I still say we're going to need a carpet for this spot, Mariah… or someone magic to make it disappear."

Mariah doesn't seem to have much problem carrying the heavy buckets up the stairs, despite her profession, she isn't afraid to get some actual manual labor done, either. Which might be why she ended up being the one to run water up and down the stairs. She sets one down next to the spot Luna is scrubbing and moves herself back to a nearby wall suffering from smoke damage as well.

"I'm sure we can find a rug to fit the decor," she says to Luna before her attention turns over to Constance. "So what brings you here? You're too early if you're after the trade, you know."

There is, perhaps, the tiniest of frowns on Constance's face. It's hard to tell if the frown is from the mention of magic or the mention of cleaning, but the rag is picked up without complaint and the young woman moves to the dressing table to do the assigned task. She glances back towards the two as she works.

"I'm here to ask for help. I know it might be odd, but I think it will benefit… you both, actually, and you may enjoy yourselves and gain respect in Dornie and any number of other things." Constance pauses, wetting her lips. "I'm hoping you'd perform in a play. Both of you."

Looking up at Mariah and unseen by Constance, Luna gives the tiniest of smirks.

"Are you saying we have no respect at all?" When she turns to Constance, the blonde looks genuinely offended. Standing, she places both hands on her hips and lifts her chin in that haughty manner she's well known to do. "Insulting us in our own house, Constance Rowntree, I would have thought you'd have better manners than that." The admonishing from the blonder of the two prostitutes sounds more like the scolding one would receive from a teacher or governess. Something which all three of them know that Luna has failed.

Dropping the brush to the floor near the burn, she picks one of the framed pieces of poetry from the wall and places it gently on the bed to begin cleaning it. "I'll have you know, Constance Rowntree, we receive plenty of respect." Well, Mariah does, Luna sort of does.

"Oh, don't give the girl a hard time," Mariah says, although there is still an impishness about her as she addresses Luna, "She's yet to understand the type of respect you and I get." She comes over, though, to rest her elbow on Luna's shoulder as she looks over at Constance, a sort of wry amusement about her.

"You might do well to look to your sales pitch, though, luv," she says, her free hand going to her hip as well. "Particularly if you're around asking for favors. What's this play then, ey?"

The rag is dropped from the young blonde's hand and she actually gapes at Luna's words. Her arms fold over her chest. "I meant respect for different pursuits other than your employments. I doubt everyone treats you like you're worth more than what you do." Constance is frowning. This is not what she had in mind. "I didn't come in here to be treated like a child. I understand more than you might think."

Constance turns to face them fully, lower lip drawn in between her teeth as she frowns. "It's not a favor because favors imply something is given in return. I came to give you two the opportunity to be on stage. You're both pretty and intelligent and likely have some experience in acting, even if it might be on the stage. I'd like you to take part because I think you might enjoy it and that others might enjoy it as well."

"Touche," the bit of French that Luna knows is all compliments of her brunette counterpart scrubbing the wall. "The word opportunity implies that we'll receive something in return for our time. How much does it pay?" It's not a question that Luna asks for herself, of course, she couldn't care less and both of the other women well know it.

"I'll not take a small part, Constance Rowntree," the blonde continues, pointing her rag in the teen's direction. "I'm just as well suited to the stage as you are, and you know I'll draw an audience." After all, she drew a large enough one at the New Year's celebration.

The question of payment has Mariah's eyebrows lifting, silently adding her own curiosity as to that matter. But her smile does soften some as the girl starts to pout a bit, even if it does stay crooked. That may be because of the cut, who can say. "You still haven't told us what the play is. Something we might know?"

She looks over at Luna at those last words, and there's a bit of a laugh before she adds, "I'm not sure she's looking to employ your dancing skills, Luna." Which at least proves she's an equal opportunity teaser. "Who else are you roping into this, anyway?" The matter of co-stars is a delicate matter, given their profession and all.

Constance's arms don't uncross, nor does her frown fade. "Luna Owens, regardless of your skills at anything, you cannot just make demands and act as if you can have anything you please. Performance is about teamwork and I won't have anyone taking that kind of attitude." She shakes her head. "And this isn't the kind of thing that pays. It is an opportunity to put yourself out there and give enjoyment to the people of Dornie. And performing is fun. You won't be paid. No one is paid, but if you must demand something in exchange, simply consider it marketing."

A small nod is given towards Mariah. "I can't finalize a script until I know how many players we have. If I don't have enough male leads some of the women might have to play men or vice versa if there aren't enough ladies. I was thinking something Shakespeare because it's always classic. As far as others, I've asked a few villagers to consider it… Jorn Wartooth has almost agreed, which is as good as a yes and I know that I can convince Cas Blackburn. He's terribly good at that sort of thing and I know he'll have fun with it. I was going to try and get Beisdean Skye, but he avoided the question quite cleverly so I will have to corner him and see what I can do…"

"I can recite, I can sing, I can dance, and I can play instruments," Luna primly counts all four off on her fingers before going back to cleaning the glass on the frame she took down. "I could have taken to any stage if it suited me but I am not a vagabond nor do I enjoy traveling in squalor." Two good reasons not to be an actor.

"Besides, if there's anything that I can do better than most others in this little town, it's act. My entire career is built around an act that I enjoy— " She shuts her mouth quickly, her face turning a shade pink. Not from embarrassment but from frustration and anger, something she takes out on the piece of poetry that she's working on cleaning. "— never you mind."

"So you're not paying anyone. In what way isn't this a favor, again?" Mariah seems more amused than really troubled by the prospect. But then, she generally doesn't do things she isn't paid for, which might also be why she's not rallying for a decent part herself. "Shakespeare is always a good choice," she notes, herself having a passion for the Bard.

However, when the girl lists off her prospective actors, Mariah's interest gets piqued. She straightens some and looks contemplative for a moment. "Oh, what the hell. I'll do it." She doesn't list her accomplishments like Luna does, but perhaps she saving that for later.

And anyway, Luna's near-comment has her suppressing a chortle, and she has to turn her head briefly before she looks back to her friend. "No imparting trade secrets to the uninitiated, Luna love."

"Oh, good! I'm glad I got one of you," Constance says, smiling broadly. It's the first time, really, since she arrived at the Dovetail. Looking back to Luna, she offers her a somewhat sympathetic look. "I think you do a fine job of it. If you'd like to be able to show off your talents and be appreciated for them, this is a good way."

Another look is given to Mariah. "If you want to consider it a favor, it's a favor to Dornie and I'm sure everyone will find a way to make you appreciate what you're doing," Constance says.

Unlike Mariah, the cast list doesn't excite Luna and she gives a noncommittal lift of one shoulder. "I will still have to insist on a major part, I'll not be stuck in the minor role of a hag or a serving wench." Especially when she's much better suited as a shrew. "I want to be seen, not tucked away like dirty secret."

Finally finished with the glass and frame, she holds it up to the light from the window to see her own reflection. Staring at it for a while, she doesn't smile as she usually does when she sees herself. "Of course Mariah, forgive me… though I highly doubt Duncan Rowntree would take Constance being initiated here as well as my own father did." And everyone in town knows how well Maddock received the news that his daughter worked for Edme Hare.

"Oh, Dornie appreciates me well enough as it is. I'm in it for the fun of it all," Mariah says, her tone a bit wry at the beginning. She's not taken in by the 'doing it for marketing' pitch, however much she'll liking take advantage of that aspect of it. "Let us know when you've chosen a script. It would be a bonus if there was some singing in it, by the way."

She looks over at Luna, her smirk coming back to her face at Luna's words, "Ah, too true, that. Fathers take the fun out of everything." Whatever sentiment she might feel toward her late father, it's repressed expertly for that comment.

Constance looks back at Luna. "Lead roles will have to be auditioned for. They need to be earned, but I can promise you that you'll be seen. There's some saying about there being no small roles or something like that. No one's hidden away. It isn't as if this is some grand undertaking." She beams. "However… I will do my best to make sure that it's enjoyable for everyone, actors and audience alike." The stage, after all, is what she lives for. But the mention of fathers…

"I think you're absolutely right about that. Father has loftier goals for me and I wouldn't dream of doing anything that might incur his wrath," she says, respectfully.

"There are no small roles, only small actors, blah blah blah." Luna's voice is as bland as the look she's giving Constance right now. As though she's uncertain if she's being insulted yet again in her own room. "And yet, I wonder what he would say to learning that you're in my room at this very moment working for me." At that, her lips curve up at one corner in a wicked smirk. "And that you're begging favor from the both of us… Loftier indeed."

Placing the frame back on the wall, she wipes a fingerprint off the glass and turns away from it. "I'll volunteer for your little play, provisionally. Before I commit fully I need to know who is going to be involved and what roles they will have." A quick glance is given to Mariah before the blonde moves to another picture and begins taking it down. This one a water color of Slainte Skye and a young boy, most likely Beisdean. It's passed off to Mariah, "You can give that to him, if you like. I'll have another commissioned for myself."

Mariah listens as the other two talk, her expression settled into a slight, but genuine smile as she turns back to cleaning the wall. It could be that she's actually looking forward to the production. She doesn't turn back again until Luna offers that painting over and she drops her rag to take it without question. "I'll see that he gets it." It's all very business like, that particular exchange.

The painting rests on the floor, propped up against her leg as she looks to Constance again. "Indeed. The stage is such a noble pursuit, after all," and as much as Luna gets that wicked smirk, Mariah seems, for the moment, sincere. Seems. "Art is what separates us from the animals, as they say."

There's a pair of slightly narrowed eyes focused in Luna's direction. "Working for you, hmm? That almost sounds as if you were trying to blackmail me, Luna Owens," Constance says, lips pressed into a thin line. "I think you'll find that my father is not someone to be trifled with. Nor someone who can be easily turned against his kin. I suggest you speak no more on that issue." Her lips part for a moment to respond to Mariah, but she closes her mouth and simply offers her a smile. She's not touching that last statement, especially when there are oh so many ways it could be taken. "I'll make sure you get a cast list as soon as I have it ready."

"I wouldn't dream of blackmailing you, Constance Rowntree, it was just a droll thought to keep me plodding along in my worthless little existence." The faint smile she gives the blonde girl lasts only a brief second. Luna then crosses to the wardrobe and unlocks the doors from a key around her neck. She isn't very shy about showing off that it's overstuffed with fine dresses. "Mariah, which do you think I should wear tonight? I'm considering going visiting, this room isn't quite ready and I don't wish to stay in it alone…" A brief glance is given the window.

"By the by, Constance, how is your brother getting on?"

It's a feat not to react somehow to that last comment. A hand to cover her mouth, a pinch between the eyes, a groan… it's all saved until later. Mariah doesn't dissuade Luna from her present course, never does, in fact, and she and the painting step over to sit on the bed. A bit out of the way.

"I've always liked you in the red," she says, as if there were no undercurrents to this conversation whatsoever, and she nonchalantly picks up a silver tray sitting on a nearby table to start cleaning. It may have already been done, but she sees a spot. Yes.

"I'm certainly glad to be reminded of your intelligence, Luna," Constance says smoothly. "After all, blackmail is a dangerous game. I'm sure you've got plenty of other things to distract you with. I'll leave you to your dress up." The question doesn't even get a response from Constance. She's already made it very clear to Luna on at least one occasion how very much off-limits her immediate family is and she sees no reason to let Luna try and get a rise out of her again. She gives Mariah a simple nod before the young Rowntree makes her way to the door.

Constance is no sooner out the door than Luna turns toward Mariah, jaw clenched and lips pressed into a thin angry line. "The next time Duncan Rowntree walks through the door," she says tightly, "send him to my room. I don't care about my rules with those brutish thugs, I'd give him a tumble through my sheets just to rub it in that uppity cow's face."

It takes everything she can to strangle the scream of rage building inside of her. Constance and Luna in the same room is like placing flame to a shotglass of hard liquor. They go well at first but the end result is always burnt eyebrows.

Luna opens the window, leaning out onto the sill filled with snow to clean the other side. "I would certainly like to know what sort of beast is prowling around my room at night… It's beginning to edge on my nerves. What if it's one of those black dogs?"

Mariah waves at Constance as she makes her exit, and when the girl is gone, that's when she shakes her head. At what, she doesn't say.

"Too far off the ground," she eventually says to Luna, as far as black dogs, "Perhaps we should stay up one night and see what happens by, ey?" Standing up from the bed, she comes over to link her arm through the blonde's.

"Don't let Constance Rowntree, of all people, cause you to lower your standards. She's just a girl. You're the Dovetail's most sought after courtesan, yes?" She glances over to the door, a smirk coming to her face as she adds, "Just think of how fun this is going to be."