The Art of Chess

"If it's that all, Monsieur von Karlach, I will take my leave." The elderly attendant bows promptly, leaving the writing supplies in a pressed leather box on the table in the room. The pale blonde fellow he was addressing, glanced over his shoulder; hair unarrayed and not tied, unkempt in manner — perhaps only the elderly attendant himself would be the one to see Christian in this sight.

He was returned his former room after a private conversation with Etienne last night, just moments within his meeting of the red-haired girl. The conversation seemed pleasant enough, even Matthew has come back to serve him. The pale fellow procures a ribbon from the pocket of the over-coat which laid across one of the chairs and began to methodically tie up his hair for the eve, and Matthew takes that as a silent cue that all is sufficient and departs quietly from the playwright's room.

Sander was leisurely hanging about the playwright's room, hoping to get the chance to meet one Christian von Karlach. If he loved one thing, it was gossip and gossip came to his ears last night that the playwright had returned to the theatre. That same night he had made up his mind to approach Christian, not only to offer his talent for an upcoming play but also to require more about the Lady Moncreiffe.

He diligently worked out his outfit for this occasion, nothing to "la dee da" for this one as he had been so graciously warned. Conservative was the way to go and so he stood in the hallway, dressed in a grey plaid three piece suit, without his beloved fedora, just in time to see the emerging Matthew. He audibly clears his throat and steps up to the elderly man. "Good evening, sir. I suppose you won't be able to tell me if Herr von Karlach is able to grant me an audience…would you?" This question is followed by his most charming smile.

"The Monsieur?" Not a shred of surprise shows on the elderly man's wrinkled features and his pale blue eyes work their gaze up and down the very well-dressed pianist. "I do not think the Monsieur von Karlach grants audiences.”You can just knock on the door." Matthew advises in an artful, serious manner, pointed his white-gloved hand towards the closed door of the playwright's room and then bows at a slight angle towards Sander. "Good evening to you as well, Monsieur." The elderly attendant departs, strangely unfazed by perhaps Sander's charming attempt or that he's simply…too old.

"All the better," Sander mumbles to himself as Matthew departs. Not that he needed to inhale, to brace himself for the man opposite this door, he does so nevertheless. Mortal habits seemed to have a way with those crossing over into the immortal world. One curt knock later, the pianist takes one step away from the door and slicks his hair against his scalp one last time to ensure everything being in perfect order. "Herr von Karlach? Sander van der Meer my name, would you mind lending me a few moments of your time to talk with you?" he asks.

Upon the pianist's completion of the request, the handle clicks, the door opens, swinging on hinges that creaked just faintly, as Matthew had so gravely instructed Sander to do so to knock. The pale blonde fellow stands just beyond the invisible threshold, between room and visitor, hand gloved now upon the bronzed handle of his door, his eyes tonight the familiar iron-green looking straight at this extremely fashionable-looking person who has introduced himself as Sander van der Meer. "Good evening." His reply comes slow, as if he was surprised yet his tone is flat. Another look is sponsored towards other parts of van der Meer, his green sights become a bit more critical. And his face snaps just upwards barely to look at this quite attractive man in the eyes. "Come in then."

The door is opened wider and the pale blonde fellow steps aside, allowing a space for entry into his room; the furnishings to it tastefully but not overwrought; an array of plush chairs and a small table, to the wide bed nestled against the papered walls.

As soon as the door opens and Sander's grey eyes meet the gaze of Christian, he knows that this could turn into a potential unpleasant conversation. Unpleasant being dreadfully boring and dry but he'd play the part, somewhat anyways. He bows politely and passes Christian's figure while throwing in a short "Thank you". With two large strides, he reaches one of the plush chairs and turns around to face von Karlach. "I hope I am not interrupting you in any way, Herr von Karlach?" he asks while removing his gloves and placing them on top of the small table.

The pale blonde fellow does a regular shrug and then the smile comes upon his face. Pleasant and barely there; as if such visits, surprising as they might be, are a common occurrence here! "You are not interrupting anything, I was just preparing myself to meet a few more people — but since you're here, we can speak then." His head tilts in a profound gesture and a hand is waved at the chair Sander has put himself by. "Have a seat, Monsieur.” And what perhaps might be the highlight of this visit?" The pale fellow asks now, generating a very open interest with his expressions and his tone.

Sander inclines his head in a thankful manner and does as offered, seating himself in the plush chair. As much as he wanted to lunge into a cascade of praises, he had to restrain himself and use his next words carefully. With a nonchalant smile, he starts "Your name has been mentioned a few times since I've arrived at the theatre. Many are in awe when it comes to your talent and I would like to offer my services. Are you currently working on a new piece?" Ok, this should work. A compliment but straight to the point.

"I am myself a renowned artist, playing the piano and creating scores for my troupe. Dominique is an excellent violinist and little Salome a most enchanting opera singer. You might have heard of "Musica della Notte", ja?" While he just praised himself for getting straight to the point, he couldn't help himself to ensure that Christian was aware that he, Sander van der Meer, was no novice. To throw in a Germanic "ja" and calling him "Herr" instead of "Monsieur or Sir" also was a bit much. However, Sander himself had Germanic roots so it wasn't so far fetched…or so he thought. Perhaps "von Karlach" was three times removed from his roots and didn't speak any of his native tongue but too late to dwell on that now…

The pale blonde fellow has settled himself not in the chair, but on the wide arm-rest of the other chair facing Sander, his heels locking a little and his fore-arm resting in a splayed manner across his lap.” Your services?" All of which Sander has offered is simply condensed down into two words, and the playwright's features shift just barely, and the pianist is acknowledged with a distracted nod, green eyes shifting to look at the curtained windows of his room. And he does not seem to particularly care how Sander appeared to delicately inject that few Germanic nuances into his words; it however made the pale fellow amused.

Running now a bent knuckle down the lapel of his shirt, and that he is coatless, Christian eases up from the arm-rest and settles himself into the cushions of his chair, placing his hands clearly where Sander will be able to see them. "Monsieur van der Meer." The pale fellow now continues, seemingly the tone twisting with a hinted calculation to it. "Why would you offer such splendid arrangements to me? I am complimented. And surprised. My abilities are not as what you paint them out to be. Your troupe, if Matthew has told me correctly, is talented enough to draw in great crowds."

He leans back, sinking his body into the cushions now, and pyramiding his fingers into a restful position on one knee. "Would not such collaboration raise some eyebrows? Not amongst our patrons. But others." A finger lifts from the gently-twined slender digits on Christian's knee, crooking a little, like a tiny reprimand towards Sander.

"Why yes but can you even begin to imagine what kind of crowds we draw with both of our names appearing on the invitations and programs? Just envision it for a moment," Sander can barely contain his excitement now as his thoughts already drift to the raging theatre audience in a standing ovation. A masterpiece could be created! "Herr von Karlach, we are not talking to arrange a politic debate here. We are talking _art_! Both of us happen to do this for a living and we are in an Elysium here after all…here to entertain the masses. I don't see the harm." He really couldn't.

Never was he one about politics and whom he was able to talk to or not. "You are working with the Lady Moncreiffe, are you not?" There. He brought up his second reason for his visit tonight. If eye brows were to be raised by "others", they would be already in the state of moving…upwards. All the while he is talking….and daydreaming, his eyes roam to follow those steadily moving hands of Christian's.

"You forget your place, Monsieur van der Meer." The pale blonde fellow rises up now, his fingers flicking apart like snapping claws, and lacing together again in a tight fashion before. Sights of hardened iron-green descend with a slew of cold irritation on the pianist still seated; though the chilly expression evaporates just as quickly when his features reform to nothingness. "You compliment my ability, Monsieur." He tells Sander directly, never even once referring to his work as 'art', and his lips un-upturned. "If you need to so speak to Mademoiselle Moncreiffe herself regarding collaboration, do by all means."

A pause follows, unwavering — it is not as if Christian needed to make a decision about anything at all or be persuaded by standing ovations, fame and flowers. "Perhaps, let me tell you, Monsieur, once you have cleared your head, about my situation here; and there are consequences which you will not even wish for if I work with you."
The pale fellow's chin lifts, his line of sight working its way towards the ajar door of his room; the finality of the conversation within easily overheard if someone had traversed past that door.

Right. He had completely done the opposite of what he had planned. He prattled like an old woman, forgetting whom he was talking to. He inwardly chides himself for such silliness and already regrets to have come here tonight. Apparently Herr von Karlach had some baggage that Sander was not aware of or rather conscious enough to find out before approaching the playwright. "If I have offended you, I most sincerely apologize." He could ask what Christian meant with his warning but that would mean getting involved in whatever he seemed to be entangled in. At this point he just wanted to leave this, increasingly colder getting, room.

"My intentions were solely directed towards creating something special. Something memorable. Mayhaps it was not in my place to offer such a thing," he says apologetic and follows Christian's gaze towards the door. He most certainly missed something big regarding this man. Not all the gossip must have made it to him. That was one downfall with gossip. As much as he enjoyed it, he couldn't rely on it. Smoothing out a few wrinkles from his pants, he stands to his feet. "I think I have already taken up too much of your time tonight," Sander says in a tone that sent a clear message.

"Good evening then, Monsieur." The pale fellow decidingly replies, and resigns himself in three and four steps to his half-opened door, and pulls it open sufficiently for Sander to exit. The moment the pianist would have passed by him. Christian's neck tilts, and his face and mouth becomes suddenly very close to the former, just suffice to grant words drawn into whisper, "Perhaps if you learn to play chess, Monsieur, I will be pleased to meet you again.” With such subtle advice given, the pale fellow drifts back, holding the door with such calm mien now and allowing Sander to depart.

Albeit dense when it came to politics itself, he knew when he was scolded and by all means, he was being scolded. Here he was, Sander van der Meer, able to charm the pants off of women (and some men), not even closely able to hold his own in this conversation and feeling like a little boy. While he previously thought this could turn into a boring evening, it had taken a completely different turn. That of utter embarrassment. If he wanted to play with the big dogs, he would have to "learn chess". Luckily, he had all eternity to do so. "Einen guten Abend wuensche ich," the pianist curtly replies, dips his head and exits the room.

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