Divided into several rooms the dining area of L'Auberge seems almost like a quaint roadside inn that one might encounter out in the French countryside. With flagstone floors, exposed rafters, and dark wood columns it evokes the imagery of a century earlier, when most travel was done by horse or foot and only on the rare occasion would a coughing and rattling car disturb the bucolic peace.
There are no booths, only wooden chairs and tables and the walls are either stone or lathe and plaster with wooden wainscoting. The main room contains a counter carved of dark wood where people can sit and a pair of fireplaces set in opposite walls while most of the smaller rooms contain a single fireplace. A doorway just to the right of the counter leads to the kitchen in back.
The majority of the dark wooden posts scattered throughout the building are simple square columns but several of them are elaborately carved. On closer inspection each one seems to illustrate some story such as the life and death of Jeanne d'Arc, the adventures of Huon of Bordeaux, or the Battle of Verdun.
Just slightly on the long side he tends to wear it in a sort of loose and unruly mane, the tips just threatening to hang down into his eyes. His face is lean with high cheekbones and a strong jawline. Blond stubble adorns his chin and cheeks, giving him a slightly relaxed and Bohemian air. His skin is the fair and light indicating some form of western European descent. Pale blue eyes the color of faded denim finish his features, giving him a rather penetrating gaze despite his friendly appearance.
Gilles is tall but not overly so, just an inch or so over six feet in height. He is not what anyone would term as large, being right around a hundred and seventy five pound. Small injuries, tiny cuts and burns, crisscross the flesh of his strong hands, hinting that he most likely makes his living doing some form of labor. He lacks the definition of a bodybuilder, his physique coming more from regular athletic endeavors and exertion than from any particular desire to shape his body.
He wears a dark vest with a faint brocade pattern over a blue linen shirt, the sleeves loosely rolled up to his forearms. A pair of broken in faded bluejeans cover his legs while on his feet he wears a tightly laced pair of brown hiking boots, used but in good shape with a thick waffle-pattern tread.
While not as transformed as other Changelings there is still no doubt that Gilles is not human. His features are thin and sharp and his ears bear an inhuman tapering. His seeming is not readily apparent, although clearly he is no Beast or Ogre. The way his hair seems to refuse to remain combed and his almost perpetual five o'clock shadow indicate that he is most likely not one of the Fairest and he carries none of the obvious signs of an Elemental. The most likely guess would be that he is a Wizened, but then wouldn't it be just like a Darkling to look like someone else?
His Court, on the other hand, seems much more clear. He is surrounded by a scent of tilled earth, fresh cut grass and hay, and hints of petrichor, the odor left behind after gentle rains.
Mask: There are those that people often stop and stare at, their looks something that draws attention. This woman just so happens to be one, something she does nothing to downplay. Long dark mahogany hair falls in riotous curls around the edges of her face and down along her spine, ending somewhere near the middle of her back. The locks are highlighted by shimmering gold and rich auburn, turning her hair to molten colour whenever light touches it. An ivory complexion is expertly tinged with colour, giving her eyes a smoky, mysterious, appearance. Those eyes are an icy blue, edged with a deeper cerulean, and framed by soot black lashes. Her lips have been painted a shimmering pink coral, the smile that touches them often a seductive one. She moves with sinuous steps, her 5'10" body toned and shaped with delectable curves.
Mien: Tall and elegant looking, with skin that shimmers as if it's been dusted in diamond powder. Long, dark hair holds the tones of deep garnets and dark amethyst, sparkling like the gems themselves under any sort of light. Her eyes are the lighest of blue sapphires and almost look as though they're faceted. The soft scents of Spring follow in her footsteps, accompanying her wherever she goes.
Monday night and the restaurant is more or less in full swing but being something of a hideaway that may sound a bit busier than the reality. Still, there's a decent enough crowd that has been drawn by word of mouth, after all, it would be difficult to harvest glamour if no one showed up.
Gilles moves between the various tables, carrying a load of food. A white apron is wrapped around his waist clearly identifying him as someone who at least works here though he still wears the brocade vest and jeans. As he drops off the dishes he talks with the people at the table, exchanging pleasantries but in an engaging and genuine style that leaves the patrons feeling more like friends and guests than simple customers.
Being that she hasn't been back to New Orleans for awhile, it's entirely likely that Savannah hasn't seen this place before. And it would appear that way when she steps inside and pauses just beyond the door, her gaze wandering over the room. She absently toys with the handle of a soft pink purse, long fingers closing and unclosing around it. While the 'regular' crowd doesn't see it, whenever she moves, light seems to set her hair to sparkling, rather like sunlight hitting a diamond. She remains where she is, checking to see if there's a sign that says whether to seat yourself, or not, and if there's a smaller table for just herself. But then she catches sight of Gilles move between the table, her gaze lifting to follow his movements.
It may be a little easier to overlook the duller mien of Gilles but once he's spotted there is little doubt that he is one of the lost. Savannah, with her glittering nature, is quite hard to miss and so Gilles immediately begins to thread his way through the tables to meet the gemstone lady.
"Mon Amie," he says with a bright smile, his voice carrying the unmistakable accent of France rather than Creole or Cajun, "Welcome. Please, come in and have a seat. I have not had the pleasure of making your acquaintance yet. My name is Gilles."
Savannah watches as Gilles makes his way over to where she's still standing, smiling when he greets her. "It's nice to meet you, Gilles. I'm Savannah." She steps in a little closer so that their conversation doesn't bother anyone else. "I've only been here a few nights. I was getting tired of food at the hotel, so thought I'd go out and someone mentioned this place. So, here I am." She's got the easy drawl of someone that's grown up in the south, although it's tempered somewhat.
Gilles' smile deepens at the mention of his receiving a recommendation, a certain amount of 'pride-of-place' obvious. "Of course, I can understand and sympathize," he says as he guides Savannah to an open table. Despite his French accent he seems to have a very good grasp of the English language. It seems unlikely that casual conversation would bother anyone, the atmosphere of the restaurant extremely casual with a strong feeling of bonhomie. While there is an undeniable French connection to the restaurant it seems about as far as one could get from fussy and formal dining and instead is designed to elicit feelings of happiness and joy, a perfect feeding ground for a Spring courtier like Gilles.
"It is wonderful to have you hear," Gilles says as he pulls a white towel from the band of his apron and wipes down the perfectly clean table. "Are you coming to join our fair city or just merely passing through?"
Savannah follows Gilles toward the table, a curious looking casting over the room as she walks. Once there, she smiles at him again before settling into a seat. "I'm staying, actually. My brother lives on the outskirts of town and I... needed a change from New York. So, here I am." Her purse is set down beside her feet beneath the table. "Are you the owner? This is a lovely place."
Gilles smiles and gives a slight bow of his head. "Proprietor, head waiter, and chief cook," he says. While he claims these multiple positions multiple mortals can be clearly identified as working here as well. "Brewer of all manners of drink and storyteller as well," he adds. He takes a moment to try and size Savannah up and then says, "Could I suggest the supreme de faisan sauvage aux champignons des bois?"
Savannah can't help but give a soft laugh, "I don't speak French very well, so I'll have to go with the suggestion. I'm sure it'll be something that I like." She tips her head a little, causing her glittering hair to shift and sparkle. "Perhaps you'll be able to point me in the right direction so that I can meet others. I'm afraid that I haven't had a chance to do so, yet."
Gilles nods and smiles. "Of course," he says. "I would be happy to help you with that. Just give me one moment to fetch your dinner and then I will see what I can do."
Savannah nods. "I appreciate that, Gilles. Thank you." While Gilles is off getting her dinner, she's back to watching the room, icy eyes flickering from this person to the next, watching their reactions as they eat their meals, smiling when people express their joy over their food. Happy places are always good places for Spring. It's little wonder one of the Court owns such a place.
The stereotype of Spring may be one of excess indulgence and there are certainly no shortage of such members but Gilles seems more inclined to sharing and promoting the simpler joys of life. Everywhere Savannah looks she can see little indications that reveal how carefully crafted the atmosphere is. Despite the well worn and comfortable look of the room careful examination reveals that most things are relatively new and have not yet had the opportunity to earn genuine marks of age. This also makes it apparent that the various mismatched items, used to help create an air of casualness, must have been deliberately chosen for that effect.
And the effect seems to work well. If any of the mortal patrons are aware of the charade they do not appear to care, being to swept up in the carefully tailored image and illusion.
Gilles returns after a few minutes with a plate containing breast of wild pheasant with wild mushrooms and a glass of a fairly simple white wine. "I tried to make a call," he says, "but unfortunately the person I wanted to reach was busy. Still, you should be able to meet with her another time at the Community Center."
Always one to people watch, Savannah hardly noticed the wait for the food, even if it came up fairly quickly. As Gilles returns and sets down her food and drink, she looks back toward him with a smile, "I appreciate the effort. You're right, I should be able to meet them another time. If you could just tell me where the Community Center is..?" The smile turns into a grin, "I'm terrible with directions, I'm afraid. I could get lot in a shopping mall." She'd continue talking, but the smell of the food on her plate draws in her attention. "Oh, wow. This looks amazing. Thank you, Gilles."
Gilles smiles. "It is not too far from here," he says, "About four or five miles to the West. I could try to draw you up a map but perhaps Mark would be a better guide." He flags down one of the waiters moving about the floor and says, "Mark, When Mlle. Savannah is ready would you be able to guide her to the Community Center?"
"Oh yeah, sure, no problem," Mark says, the young man appearing to be in his early 20's, possibly a local college student. "I'm Mark," he says, making the introductions and extending a hand as he smiles a broad grin.
Savannah reaches out to take Mark's hand, giving it a quick shake before drawing hers back, "Savannah. Nice to meet you, Mark. And thank you for being my tour guide when I'm ready to leave." She looks back to Gilles again. "Thanks for the help, Gilles. Being new to town has its downfalls, doesn't it? But I have to admit, I really do enjoy all the sights and sounds. Even in the middle of the night, there's something happening."
Gilles nods as Mark retires to return to his serving duties. "I am still finding my way about," he confesses, though he doesn't seem particularly bothered by the fact. "I have only been here for a bit over a month, but yes, it is a wonderful city, filled with life."
"New York was great, but I needed a change. Plus, like I said, my brother lives here, so I wanted to be close to him again." Savannah reaches for her glass, lifting it so that she can take a sip. Once it's set back down again, she looks over the plate with a sigh. "If I could cook like this, I would never eat out. Or, well, maybe to try new things. I swear I can burn a pot of boiling water. But give me some paint brushes, or, better yet, give me some gems and I can make something pretty."
Gilles gives a slight inclination of his head and smiles warmly. "Each of us has our gifts," he says. "To have all the gifts would make one Pandora. My own talents do not extend so much to such artistic endeavors. About the best I can manage is wood carving. But that is why we share our gifts with one another, is it not?"
Savannah nods back toward wood columns near the entrace, "Did you carve those?" She had caught notice of them when she had first entered the building, having admired the work that had gone into each one. "They're beautifully done." Her fingers remain on the stem of her glass, turning it slowly between them as she speaks. "Art has always been my thing. Was atually the one place I could escape into when I was a kid." She grins, "Not that my childhood was horrible, or anything."
Gilles gives a nod and there is another swell of pride as Savannah compliments his handiwork. "I have another in progress," he says. "It will illustrate an old European children's story you may have heard called 'Stone Soup'. I think some of our friends find my business model a little difficult to understand and so I am hoping that maybe being reminded of the story will help put them at ease."
Savannah smiles brightly, "Oh! The story of how the village came together and gave stuff to make the soup, so that it fed them all. I haven't heard that one in awhile, but I remember it from when I was younger. I can't wait to see that when it's finished. I'm guessing that you have a lot of carvings at home. Do you make smaller things? Like little animals, stuff like that? My mother collects birds, so I'm always on the look out for something that's different that I can bring her."
Gilles smiles brightly and nods. "Just so," he says. "When each hoarded their carrots or potatoes or cabbages what they had was a dull and tiresome affair, but when they shared their gifts with one another they each ended up with something better than what they had before." He pauses a moment to look down at his hands and then smiles. "Working with wood relaxes me. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment that I get from it that I do not get with my other talents. I think it is because it helps to keep me grounded. It reminds me that not everything I am is because of things beyond my control. Not that I mind using my other talents. It is simply...different."
Savannah nods as she listens, seeming to understand that feeling. "That's how I am. I either paint, or make jewelry. Jewelry is what I do for a living, actually. I make stuff, sell it online. My brother handls the website for me. Something about sifting through all those colourful stones, or sweeping oil paint across a canvas." She sighs happily, "There's nothing quite like it. If I wasn't reminded that I needed to eat every once in awhile, that's what I'd spend my whole day doing."
Gilles smiles slightly wryly and nods. "I have known others with such afflictions," he says with a slight chuckle. "Fortunately there are those such as me to help remind you every now and again to return to us and take a little sustenance." Changing subjects he asks, "Have you met anyone else here or am I the first?"
"You're the first, actually." Savannah grins, "Lucky you! I've been here a few days, but I've been apartment hunting and staying at a hotel, so hadn't had a chance to poke around much. I'm hoping to meet others and I'm sure that I will now. Anything interesting that's been going on that you could share with me? I don't want to walk into something unexpected."
Gilles takes a moment to think. "There is a sort of state of truce between the various groups," he says, "so there is probably less to worry about here than in a city such as New York, but of course there is the mystery of our return as well. People are looking into that but I do not think most are satisfied with the answers thus far."
Savannah makes a quiet sound, "Things are different here, that's for sure. It'll be interesting if anyone is ever able to figure out why we're suddenly able to return here. There must be some sort of working theory on it." She reaches up to tuck some of her hair behind one ear, "If there's anything that I can do to help, I'd like to do it. I'm hoping to find a place here and be as useful as I can be."
Gilles nods. "There are theories," he says. "There have been discussions with some of the locals and it appears that someone was responsible for that condition. Another person dealt with them and now..." He gives a shrug of his shoulders. "Now we are where we are. The locals don't seem to know too much about who this other person was though we did just get a suggestion from one of them that we might not want to delve too deeply. After all, if this person wanted the accolades they would have already claimed them. The fact that they have not is...something to consider."
Savannah considers that as she listens, then nods. "You know, that sounds fairly reasonable. I mean, if I was responsible for something like that and I didn't want anyone else poking into the matter, I'd be a tad upset to find that people were doing so. Sometimes it's just good to accept what's happened and move on from there. Maybe worry about it in the back of your mind, but that's about it."
Gilles smiles a bit wryly and says, "A tad upset and considering what you've accomplished I do not think you would be someone that I want upset with me." He gives a little chuckle. "Still, I suspect that people will continue to dig. It is in our nature, after all. Quite a few of us probably wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for our curiosity." He shrugs his shoulders a little and says, "But I myself have other matters to look forward to. While many want to focus on the Why of what happened I choose to focus on the How of our moving forward. There is a great deal of work to be done. Things to be built and roads to be cleared."
Savannah nods again, "If we've only just come back here, then New Orleans isn't as established as other places. So, yes, there would be lots to do. Are there very many of us here?" In between talking this whole time, she's been eating her dinner. There's no point in being rude and letting delicious food go to waste. And it is delicious. She'll quite happily finish everything that's on her plate and would likely ask for seconds, if it'd been at someone's house.
"More than a few," Gilles responds, "and our numbers seem to be growing. I believe more than a few of us have made some inroads into the vegetation but as near as I can tell nothing is really connected. The local market is open and seems to have been open for quite some time but relationships are still in the process of being developed. That is actually a task of mine, but at present the suggestion is that people not take any unnecessary trips or go alone."
Savannah makes a quiet sounds, "When you go next, would you mind if I tagged along? I've always like the market and I wouldn't mind looking around. Sometimes, I can find some decent gems for stuff that I'm making." Well, depending on /what/ she's making. She reaches for her glass again, taking another drink before just holding the glass in hand. "I'll do whatever I can to help." She pauses a moment, then gives a small smile. "I haven't been back all that long, though, so I'm still learning some stuff. But I settled in not too badly in New York and met people there that were able to help."
Gilles nods and smiles a bit wryly once more. "I think I was tasked with this because I naturally have an interest in trading with them. I know that I won't be able to get all the supplies that I want on this side. That means I am looking toward a long term relationship, one where they bring the carrots while I bring the potatoes. Of course it will probably need to be a bit more formalized in this case. I am sure other people wanting to trade with them only helps to strengthen that relationship."
Savannah nods, "Well, please keep me in mind the next time that you go. If anything, I'd like to at least see it and sort of get an idea of the place." She looks down to her plate and smiles, "Gilles, dinner was wonderful. If anyone asks for suggestions on where to go for dinner, I'm definitely going to recommend this place. And I'll be coming back again. I'll have to see if I can convince my brother to come by, as well, but he's usually busy. Oh! I'll bring my parents here when they finally come to visit once I get a place. They'll love it."
Gilles nods and smiles. "Of course," he says. "Everyone is always welcome. I am very glad you enjoyed yourself. How aware are your brother and your family about your situation? I ask simply so that I will have some idea what matters can be discussed around them and what matters can not."
"My brother knows. He's my twin, so it's hard to keep stuff from him. My mom and dad do not. They just know I went radio silent for a few years. I try not to bring it up too often, since it upsets my mom still." A quick smiles is given, one that fades just as quickly. "You know how it goes, I'm sure. We all leave something behind."
"There are a few of us who slipped through precisely because we left no one behind," Gilles says, "but yes, I think in many cases it is precisely because of who we left behind that we are able to return at all."
Savannah nods, "I think that you're right. I know that's what brought me back. Otherwise..." She gives a small shake of her head, as if trying to forget something. "Anyway. How much do I owe you for dinner? I hate to leave so soon, but I need to head back to the hotel and give said parents a quick call, to let them know where I'm staying right now. But if Mark could show me the way to the center, first, that would be great. Then I can go back tomorrow and hopefully meet up with whoever I'm supposed to. Or others."
Gilles makes a brushing away gesture with his hand. "Do not worry about it," he says. "Consider it a potato that I am bringing to the soup. I can easily afford a free meal now and again and at the end of the night anything that has not been eaten would go to the Community Center anyway. Why should I charge you more because you would rather eat here instead?" He smiles and flags down Mark once more and says, "Mark, Mlle. Savannah is ready, if you would be so kind as to be her guide."
Savannah reaches down to pick up her purse before she gets to her feet, "Thank you for the lovely meal and the wonderful company, Gilles. Hopefully I'll see you again sometime soon." She reaches into her purse, digging around a moment before pulling out a business card and handing it to him. "My cellphone number is on there if you need to get in touch with me. Like most people, it's the easiest way these days." The card reads: 'Duvall Custom Jewelery, Designs by Savannah Grace' with a cellphone number and website address beneath it.
Gilles accepts the card and looks at it for a moment before slipping it into a pocket of his vest. "I am afraid I do not have any business cards, although some of my friends here tell me I should order some, but you can almost always reach me here. Even if I am not able to pick up the phone someone here will probably be able to reach me."