date: the seventeenth of maccius
location: the empressian gardens
closed to: @ofmichel
As he completes his fifth lap around the winding path of the gardens, keeping a pace swift enough to outrun most of Calandre’s guards, Medraut considers the appeal of the Summer Palace grounds. The gardens make for a fine backdrop, he supposes: blooms of rosemary and sage and iris, lines of flowerbeds that stretch on and on, lush sprawls of green. They make for a fine stomping grounds for his morning jogs, too, but it all seems a little...monotonous. He longs for the seascape of Widrowem, for the smells and sounds and sights of it, and when he turns a corner to find Michel Fortin standing at the threshold of the gardens, arms crossed, his longing to be someplace far, far away from Val Faim grows tenfold.
His mind’s eye transports him to the slums of Hightown fourteen years ago. He recalls the hard, stern set of Michel’s mouth; it hasn’t changed. He recalls that unnamable air about him—the way authority rolls from him in waves, the way he commands a room; that hasn’t changed, either. He doesn’t recall Michel Fortin looking so...weary—but he supposes a promotion from Summer Palace guard to Commander of the Imperial Army has its costs, and repose is no doubt one of them. Little has changed about Michel, save for the shadows burgeoning beneath his eyes, and Medraut wonders, idly, what Michel sees when he looks at him. Does he see the same Underworld castaway he knew all those years ago—vicious and feral, more monster than man? Does he see the well-groomed Chevalier he now knows little of—still a little vicious, but not so feral, and decidedly more man than monster? Does he see shades of the two blended together, a composite of all the lives he’s lived?
As he closes in on Michel, his pace slows, and by the time Medraut reaches him, his gait is lax, unhurried (his heels are practically digging into the limestone underfoot). Always on his guard, and thrice so when in the company of Calandre’s best and brightest wardogs, he comes to a halt a few feet away from Michel, chest heaving in tandem with the labor of each breath he gulps down. “Commander Fortin,” he huffs by way of greeting. He bows his head deferentially, and his pride bristles in answer. “It would seem I’m a far sight easier to catch these days than I was in my youth.” He makes a concerted to affect his voice with congeniality, a charade of good humor, but his body language knows not how to lie, and his unease shows in the set of his jaw, the tight line of his shoulders. “Pray tell, what have I done to merit your company?” he asks. The question is meant to sound flip, but the pitch and tone of his voice are all wrong, garbled by his disquiet. He tries his hand at levity again. “Is this a friendly visit, Commander, or are you here to drag me to the gallows for old times’ sake?”