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Gala of Ascension

A gala to commemorate the life and legacy of the great Grand Duchess Carlotta Velenosa -- to celebrate her ascension to Elysium, and into the pages of history, in true Lyceum style. The world is changing. House Velenosa invites one and all to celebrate both their memories of the past and their dreams for the future, with the finest food and wine, silk and splendor.


July 14, 2016, 8:30 p.m.

Hosted By

Niccolo(RIP) Isolde Esera


Rohkir(RIP) Aurelian(RIP) Calista Fiora Ophelia Barric(RIP) Luca(RIP) Valencia Vercyn(RIP) Gareth(RIP) Alis Jaenelle Deva Kima Talen Hadrian Monique Gustave Freja(RIP)



Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom

Largesse Level


Comments and Log


We had Mama's memorial. I tried my best to make sure that it went smoothly, and for the most part it did. Papa announced his intention to have a Tournament for Esera's hand. I'll have to work with him to make sure we can... weed out the undesirables. I want Esera to be happy, not chained to someone stupid, but good with a blade. She needs someone to match her skill and intelligence. It's a tall order. I may just have unreasonable expectations. She's far too good for anyone but perfection.


I will need to remember to do something nice for Kima, Calista, and Hadrian. They kept me sane during the Gala. It was a kindness I can't even express, to be honest. I'm sure eventually I'll have time to grieve properly. Perhaps. But as it is, it was a lovely evening, even if I could sleep for days afterward.


The Gala was everything I expected and a few things I didn't. Flowers, wine, dancing, respect for the deceased - expected. There were several statements with implications I found surprising, and some that were surprising in themselves.

Most of all, though, I believe Duke Niccolo surprised everyone with his announcement of a tournament. I was listening very closely, however, and I don't think he said what people are taking him to mean.

He said that anyone who wished to marry Grand Duchess Esera must be willing to spill his blood for her. He said that he would not give even a moment's consideration to any would-be suitor who did not risk himself in his tournament.

Allow me to be direct at the risk of sounding gauche, gentle reader: he did _not_ promise or imply an offer of Esera Velenosa's hand in marriage to the winner of the tournament. Consider that for a moment.

Was that his intention, if not his words? I don't think so. It sounds as though he wants to recreate the partnership he shared with Duchess Carlotta Velenosa - and maybe he does. Any good man would wish the best for his daughter. It will certainly give proof to a suitor's dedication.

If it works out, it will be, as Princess Ophelia said, "so-o-o romantic." I hope it turns out as he hopes.


The gala was, as I suspected, a true representation of what it is to be a Velenosa. Opulent. I could carry on with the adjectives, but I won't. To be brief, blessedly so, everything was done just right. Upon the ballroom floor fine men and women twirled about, dressed in their finest, looking like something out of a fairy tale. That, too, is no surprise - where wealth flows, just about anything can take on the aspect of fantasy.

Naturally, everyone will be talking about Duke Niccolo, and his saying-but-not-saying that any willing to shed blood has a chance at his daughter's hand. Or the consideration of a chance, at any rate. More, there will be more than a few that will also talk about how the announcement came as something of a shock to some. Of this I shall only say: no matter how old you are, your parents ever remain your parents.


While the duties of a Sword oft times mean that social obligations are given a backseat, the Gala of Ascension held some opportunity for Talen to mingle. By being honoured with the first dance from the Grand Duchess of the Lyceum, Talen made the transition into a more animated sentinel of House Velenosa. It was at this function where the Duke Father of the Archduchess of Flowers saw fit to announce the medium in which potential suitors could win his approval should they ever entertain the notion of marrying her grace. It was Talen's observation that numerous candidates took the prospect too literally and has sworn to make it his quest to reinforce a truth. A truth which reads thus; Grand Duchess Esera Velenosa is beholden to nobody but herself and should anybody feel strongly otherwise, a gauntlet would be thrown.


House Velenosa spared no expense on this rich and lavish soiree held in honor of former Arch Duchess Carlotta. Everyone was there. Everyone except a representation from Thrax. It could be circumstantial they were not available for the event but it does seem odd. I was feeling overwhelmed with all the people in attendance and decided to slink into a shadowy alcove for a bit in order to watch people come and go. It felt very comfortable there and both Lady Kima and Prince Barric joined me after some time

As the night progressed and there was more dancing to be had, Princess Isolde called for me to dance with Master Talen. How could I have refused this invitation? The man is an impeccable dancer. I enjoyed my time at the party and it seemed everyone else did as well. Duke Niccolo announced hosting a tournament for all those interested in potentially pursuing Arch Duchess Esera's hand in marriage. The tournament promises all and nothing and yet it was interesting to watch the initial reaction from the guests. My bet is Prince Rohkir and Duke Hadrian will make moves on their own whether through this tournament or not. Both seem very interested in joining Esera on the Arch Duchess throne. Perhaps they dream of being kept men. It's not such a terrible idea after all.


Tonight, the ball room glittered. More than glittered. There were flowers on the floor and in the air, scattered by each step and turn, swept up in the skirts and the silks of so many dancers. My mother loved flowers, as I do. I wish she could have seen it. I wish a lot of things -- but there is no point wishing. At the end of the night, my father pulled me into a dance, and whispered in my ear. You asked me a question, Father. I couldn't answer. Couldn't find the words. But, Father ... you asked me, and you made me wish more than I'd allowed myself to wish in a long time.

Alis arrives.
Niccolo reaches for Esera's hand for a brief moment as he leans toward her. He squeezes, and then slowly lets go.
Aurelian arrives.
Esera laughs at something Niccolo says, and whispers a quick response to him.
Gareth arrives.
Niccolo clears his throat, amused and allows one of those boyish smiles that are so rare to see from him these days. He whispers something back to his daughter.
Apostate arrives.
"People are starting to arrive" Jaenelle tells Isolde, her voice lowering just slightly from the conversation that had started before they had. "I would not mind doing either, perhaps all at once" she says helpfully. Multitasking for the win. "I am sure there wont be much in the way of need until people fully arrive, so former first, latter after more arrive?"
Apostate drops Grand Duchess Throne.
Gareth will make his way slowly into the room. Unfortunatley, he isn't quite dressed for the part. Merley dressed in a simple robe of gray, only the occasional glint of gold or silver on his person might indicate any real sense of wealth or splendor for the man. His demeanor is sober however as he shuffles towards the side of the room, spending his time looking over each person in tow with a cold, dispassionate gaze, uncertain as to what to do, he'll try and keep to the side and watch, just standing respectfully, watching from afar.
Alis is far more suited to a battlefield then a Gala of any sort. But, here she is. And probably desperately hoping that her brother shows up as well so that she is not the only fish out of water. The sheer splendor of the decor is enough to awe her, and her eyes dart around to drink it all in before she gathers her wits to make her way towards the evening's hosts to pay her respects.
Esera has joined the Grand Duchess Throne.
Niccolo has joined the Grand Duchess Throne.
Monique arrives.
Apostate drops Shadowy Alcove.
"I think that sounds excellent." Isolde squeezes Jaenelle's hand lightly, before moving in a swirl of umbra and glittering mirrored mask, her smile brilliant underneath. She approaches Alis and Gareth, holding out a hand to each of them. "Princess Alis, Prince Gareth, thank you both for coming. It is a delight to see you both. Please, take up a glass of whatever you like. I know Her Grace and Her Voice are both honored to have you here." She motions toward the Throne, and dips her head. "Please let me know if there's anything you require, yes?"
Fiora arrives.
Apostate drops Ballroom Floor.
Luca arrives.
Freja arrives.
The ballroom is a whirlwind of silk-clad servants and entertainers, dancers and musicians. Esera sits, overlooking all that finery, upon a throne above the dance floor. She is dressed in white -- in starlit aeterna -- and her smoke black hair is worn braided and looped with glittering crystals. Niccolo is seated in the throne at her side, and the two of them speak with one another as the guests begin to arrive.
Apostate is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Apostate's Work Room <OOC ROOM>.
Talen is stood vigilently by the Grand Duchess' throne in which she is sat, one hand resting upon the pommel of the ancestral Mirror Blade and the other at his back - a martial stance. With his pale grey-blue eyes roaming the room with attentive focus, the man is otherwise silent, though his head pitches occasionally in Niccolo and Esera's direction.
Kima Saik, knight of House Malvici, arrives in the company of Fiora Malvici. The blonde is dressed in a subdued fashion - a simple black dress with a red sash around her waist. Her sword is thrust through it, though it is peace-tied. She's speaking to the woman at her side. Something about slaying Shavs, by the sound of it.
Luca wanders in, a mildly curious expression on his face and a roll hanging out of his mouth. A flower petal hits him in the face and he yanks down the roll. "Oh. This was today." Whoops. He has no sword, peace tied or otherwise. He is, at least, clean and fully dressed. He's even in boots.
"Princess Isolde." Alis replies warmly, taking the offered hand to squeeze lightly as she inclines her head towards the charming mirrormask. "It is the least I could do." Next she turns to greet Gareth with a brief nod. Someone she knows of, but little else. "I will, of course. I'm just glad I could be here."

Slipping into the ballroom silently, dressed in a fine silken tunic of blue with white accents and buttons is a less commonly seen noble than even Alis, Prince Aurlian. Though he is obviously dressed in his finest for the occassion, he shows no signs of arrogance or ego in his stride or the way he carries himself, though his stance is proper enough. Moving into line as close to his cousin ALis as possible, Aurelian awaits his turn to greet his hosts as well.

Gareth will visibly hesitate in response to Isolde but he'll awkwardly smile to the woman easily enough once she finally adresses him. "Of course your highness.. it is.. well an honor and a privilege to be here. As a Grayson, it is a solemn duty to be here, but at the same time.. bittersweet in a way is it not? Please though, do not allow me to keep you for too long, your highness." Gareth states then before offering a nod of his head and retreating slightly to allow Isolde her space.. in case she decides to greet other entrants. Instead, Gareth's gaze wanders then to the throne as he watches Esera and Niccolo from afar. Alis perhaps fortunatley.. or not does not get the brunt of his glare for the time being.. given his current focus of his attentions.
Calista arrives just as the festivities begin, for once. The young Fidante mingles in with the other guests, greeting a few of them in passing as she makes her way to the Ballroom. Her eyes widen with wonder at the display of purple rose petals trailing on the ground, the gorgeous arrangements on each table, and the extravagant decor of the room in general. There is a sense of elegance and prestige that settles in the room and noticing how everyone is wearing their best attire, it is surely an event fit for a Grand Duchess. As Calista makes her way through the ballroom, she moves towards Esera and Niccolo, greeting them first with a practiced and poised curtsey before gliding away with a swish of deep violet silks that cling to her curves. She notices Isolde and Jaenelle immediately and makes her way to them. "Everything is so beautiful! Princess Isolde, Princess Jaenelle." But of course she also runs into Princess Alis and greets the Battle Royale champion with a curtsey as well.
Jaenelle has left the game.
Jaenelle has entered the game.
She isn't exactly fashionably late, or fashionable for that matter by southern standards, but to the Northern sense Princess Freja has the right of it. They are utilitarian, but form-fitting so that her innate grace and fluid motions wear it more than the armor can wear her. She arrives without guard or escort, but the swords on her hips would discourage any questioning if she would need one to begin with.
Niccolo seats at Esera's side, leaning toward her as they engage in quiet conversation. Those dark brown eyes of his, however survey the ballroom and fall on each of the guests arriving. He glances first at Isolde, then at Talen before he lets his gaze wonder back to the guests. Those that approach to greet receive a hint of a smile from the man, as well as a dip of his head in greeting.
Fiora arrives with knightly company, whilst dressed to fit the occasion. Her attire wasn't terribly different than it was at the art show; a simple dress of wine red and gold ribbon, paired with black slippers and gold earrings. She's engaged with the conversation about Shav-murdering, but quietens when the pair of ladies are fully in the social fray. Her gaze lingers on the throne, but she turns back to Kima. "Hmm. What do you usually do at these functions, first?"
"Tonight is a joyous occasion, even if the circumstances prompting it are less so." Isolde nods and she smiles warmly to Gareth. "Your presense here is a welcome one, darling." She nods and looks to Alis as well. "And yours. Tell me, is this Prince Aurelian, I have heard so much about, Princess?" Her warm smile is true and genuine, even if there's perhaps a slightly manic air about her, determined to bring delight to everyone. She turns to Calista as she approaches, embracing her, kissing her cheek. "Darling, it is good to see you. Thank you so much for coming." She murmurs to the other woman, before releasing her. As the Northerns arrive, she offers them bright greetings as well. "Welcome to House Velenosa, be welcome at our table, and thank you for your presense. Eat, drink, and be merry, yes?"
Upon hearing her name, Jaenelle turns to smile towards Calista, "Ladt Calista, welcome. Her Grace and Her Voice are honored to receive you. If there is anything you may need throughout the night, please do not hesitate to ask." She readily agrees, "it is lovely, is it not?"
Hadrian arrives.
Rohkir arrives.
Luca isn't going to greet anyone, that's for the birds. He doesn't hate birds. That's Ophelia. Still, not a huge fan. He looks to the closest likely Lady and decides to do his duty for the family. The roll gets chucked sidearm onto a shallow bowl on the refreshment table, and Luca holds out his hand to....
(OOC) Luca says: Hm.
Oh good! Alis is not the only awkward person. She's not about to comment on that to Gareth however, not even were she paid to. And instead, she quietly gives the man his space and spots both Aurelian and Calista at the same time. "Lady Fidante. It's good to see you again" and "Prince Aurelian. I didn't realize you would be here. Come with me to greet our other hosts, if you like? You can attempt to keep me out of mischief until my brother arrives, perhaps." Her smile for her cousin is quick, before she steps up towards the throne. "Your Grace, Your Highness."
Luca holds out his hand to Isolde, apparently. Start small, Luca. "Dance?"
(OOC) Luca says: Of course my rng gives me a cousin.
"Drink, eat, and then merry." Freja remarks to Isolde kindly as she passes, "Always in that order for most." She offers a polite nod as she goes, making her way to the hosting pair. She isn't one for curtsies, not by a long shot, but her nod is respectful with the small dip in her posture that can safely be assumed to be a militaristic bow of sorts. Blame it on years in service in the North. "Princess Freja Redrain of Farhaven. Well met, and thanks for the generosity of your hosting." While brief, her words do not lack sincerity.
Bereft of blade, and freshly shaven, Rohkir wanders in, inspecting the ballroom curiously. He's absent arrival with anyone in particular, and not long to linger in the entrance, making his way inward toward all of the people. Having learned from last time, he avoids hopping right into the various groups, pale eyes taking in people here and there.

STrikingly pale blue eyes shift to Isolde as his name is mentioned, Aurelian offers a respectful bow of the head in greeting, but leaves more to his cousin as she was the one addressed. He then nods in agreement to the words of his cousin directed at him and steps forward. Awaiting a chance to speak up he offers a formal and respectful bow to their hosts and says, "Your Grace." to the Archduchess and "Your Highnesses." to the rest. "I ask you forgive my lack of more somber attire, however this is the most formal I currently possess and as I understood it, by Lycene custom this is more of a celebration than a wake." to explain the black of funeral-related attire in exchange for something that might be worn at court.

His tone is somber and serious, polite and respectful. Once given leave to do so he returns to his full height which is as average as the rest of him, as his eyes seem to be the only thing about him that truly stands out. It is only then once dismissed does he move to stand by his cousin Alis.

Jaenelle moves towards Gareth, giving him a look as she approaches, a critical look. That look though, quickly slips away and she smiles, "I am glad you came. While I know Princess Isolde has greeted you, I wished to personally as well." Her attention then fixes on Freja, and the Northern Princess gets a wiggle of her fingers in greeting, "Princess Freja, have you come prepared?" The other woman knows. She knows!
Isolde laughs lightly and she kisses Luca's hand. "Perhaps in a bit, darling? Might I suggest you dance with Princess Alis? Or our lovely Northern Princess?" She murmurs quieter to him. "I'll catch you for a dance in a bit, darling." She looks to Freja then and clasps her hands. "Oh! Princess Freja! You look absolutely amazing. You had me worried, with your messenger." She twirls a bit, showing off her utterly licentious clothing. "This, though, I think would suit you. We should talk fashion soon, if you like." She's like smoke, the way she flits about, trying to make sure everyone is greeted, and she seems to sincerely appreciate everyone that has arrived. "Prince Rohkir! Ah, welcome to our home! Please, enjoy yourself. Princess Freja has just informed me that it's drink, eat, then be merry. I suspect there is some rowdy debate to be had about that particular custom." She laughs brightly and she motions to Esera and Niccolo at the thrones. "Feel free to pay your respects, and take up the refreshment of your choice."
Esera rises from her throne, to approach the railing of the balcony. She rests her hands upon that railing, fingers twined through the flowering vines that bloom upon it. She glitters brightly, in her gown of starlit aeterna, with shards of crystals looped and braided through her hair. The music dies down. "Welcome, my beloved guests," she calls out, and her voice resonates through the ballroom. "My mother loved a party. She loved what parties brought out in people. If you would honor my mother, then let this party bring out the greatness in you. In the name of the Grand Duchess Carlotta, dance and drink with each beat of your heart, every drop of sweat and blood. Be passionate -- and allow that passion to inspire you. In House Velenosa, little is forbidden."
Ophelia arrives.
Gareth for his part will stand awkwardly for a bit before he moves slwoly to make his way over towards the couch off to the side of the room. He'll slowly move to sit himself down then, giving a heavy exhalation and a whoomph as he sits then before raising his chin slightly, look down his nose at the rest of the room for the time being. Finally seated, the man starts to relax just a tad, or at least seem like he isn't too put out of his skin then. Content to just watch for the time being, Gareth's hands clasp together in his lap, robe resting lightly about his form.
Gareth has joined the Decadent Couch.
There are always so many people at large events such as these. So many who are know and still more that have yet to be met. Calista turns now when Esera addresses the crowd and she lifts her glass in thanks and toasting to Grand Duchess Carlotta's memory.
Hadrian arrives mere moments behind Lady Kima Saik and Fiora Malvici. He has favored red silks more than black tonight, though both have their place. He catches up to Fiora and Kima, putting a hand on each of their shoulders and stage-whispering, "Usually you greet the hosts, but we try not to overwhelm them all at once." He pauses. "Usually. Let's make an exception." He steps past Kima and walks up the steps towards the balcony, making a slight bow once Esera has finished speaking. He seems entirely confident that the other two will behind him - he doesn't even check.
Luca wipes off his hand absently after Isolde kisses it. He doesn't look perturbed about it. "Alright." Northern princess probably means nothing to him, though he does offer a mild smile to the princesses in question. At least the ones in his line of sight.
Kima inclines her head to Hadrian, head turned more towards her shoulder given that he stood behind her at that moment. "It is as the Duke says," she tells Fiora, though by that time Hadrian has strode forward, blazing a trail for each of them to follow. Such the gentlemen. Anyone who has spent any amount of time amidst the parties and galas of nobility well know that is quite similar to hacking ones way through dense, inhospitable jungle.

Upon reaching the balcony in his wake, Kima sketches a courtly bow to their hosts.
"Duke Hadrian," Esera greets Hadrian, as he climbs the balcony to approach her throne. She takes both his hands in hers, in a sudden show of familiarity. "My heart skipped a beat, I'd worried you wouldn't come."
The relaxation that Gareth might've found proves to be short lived, as that couch far to the side is where Ophelia had chosen to slip past on her way others when her diminuitive form stealthily divided through the decadently attired crowds. "Near-Best-Friend Prince Gareth!" And to this latest victim, she tries to catch at least one of his hands and impart an air-kiss towards his forehead with an ambushing intent, sweetly implying despite whatever maladies might afflict him, "You should dance tonight! I'm so glad you could come."
Rohkir drops a polite nod to Isolde at her greeting, intoning, "It's a lovely place." His eyes flit over to Freja and his smile only grows. "I see you've not gotten up to trouble yet, and you're already planning it, cousin. It should be a grand party indeed. Try their wine, of course." He shifts his attention back to Isolde and then gives a brief, militaristic bow of his own, before following her suggestion, making his way through the crowd toward the balcony. He slows as the others move through, hands clasped behind his back. It only serves to tighten the darker violet silk around his neck and shoulders, but it seems reflexive, when waiting in a formal setting. He's clearly in no rush.
Gustave arrives.
Niccolo rises from his throne and walks precisely one step behind Esera as he approaches the railing of the balcony. He stands at her side, his hands clasped behind his back. Hints of a smile touch his lips when she speaks, and in a rare display of his emotions he allows his pride for his daughter to be fully visible in his expression. Her words cause him to incline his head in thought, before he looks up and his dark brown eyes study the Great Duchess' features. He turns to the gathering, approaching. He leans in toward Esera, speaking quietly to her.
Gareth will just stare up at Ophelia then, but it is not one of glares and murderous intent, more just utter confusion and bewilderment. It'll take a momment to compose himself then before he coughs into a clenched fist and says, dead serious, "Your highness.. I.. this may come as a slight suprise to you.. but I havn't danced for years. Not sense my dancing accident that caused me to tripped into that brazier." He'll then pause to look to the floor then, and the throne. "I am glad to be here, I would be ashamed.. if I were not able to attend really, Princess Ophelia."
Vercyn arrives.
Valencia arrives.
Jaenelle tilts her head to look towards Esera as she approaches the rails of the balcony to address the filling ballroom. Once the announcement is made, Jae moves towards the side to silently signal to some of the silk clad servants to begin mingling throughout the people with drinks of all kinds. Collecting her own glass of wine and moving back towards the door to greet any who might enter after.
Alis moves along smartly once she's paid her respects of course, and seems not at all averse to picking up a glass of wine on her way towards some of the tables to find herself a seat and a good place from which to watch those gathered. One might rightly guess, based on the simple curiousity she displays, that this is the first event of its kind that she's attended. Other wakes, of course, but this is of a different sort than she is used to altogether. Even the perfectly tailored silks she's adorned herself with aren't enough to mask that, were her younger age not already enough of a giveaway.
Alis has joined the Libertine Table.
From her spot near Jaenelle, Calista continues to watch the crowds. She takes full notice of Hadrian, Kima and Fiora, a new face. There's a glass of wine in her hand as she quietly excuses herself from some of the Velenosa women and takes a stroll around the room.
Fiora exhales softly as Hadrian strides forward and Kima follows, as though preparing herself for some daunting task. It isn't difficult for her to catch up, and she greets the Grand Duchess and her father with a graceful curtsey as she sidles up beside Kima. She doesn't speak quite yet, seeing how Hadrian was already conversing with the hostess.
"Oh... But it's so fun," Ophelia curls one of her numerous ribbons about one index finger, perplexed herself with a few key slow blinks. "I suppose tripping and falling into a brazier would make anyone less likely to dance," she sympathetically tells Gareth before her dimpled smile breaks free once more, "Oh! I know. I can have guards keep you away from all fire so that you won't be burned. What are friends for after all?"
Vercyn slips into the Ballroom with an apologetic smile and hand waved gesture to his lateness, moving with confidence into the filled room. He bows low in a gesture of respect towards the throne and the Grand Duchess of the Lyceum before withdrawing to make way and claim the sidelines.
Luca takes up two glasses of wine, and carries them both to a table where he falls into a seat. He looks up and blinks across the table at Alis. "Ah. Hello there. We've met, right? I'm Luca Velenosa. Would you like a glass of..oh, you have one!" He's relieved he gets to drink them both, still.
"Yes. It was quite Truamatic." Gareth responds then as he looks up to Ophelia with again.. a very serious expression. "I sadly believe my dancing days are over, your highness.. though it touches my heart to think that there is still such beautiful.. er.. movements in this world." He'll offer before looking then towards Luca for a momment, apparently taking the time to watch the man socalize with Alis, two faces he is unfamiliar with for the time being..
Isolde smiles and gazes up to Esera at her words. For a moment, she just stands there, alone amongst the crowd, transported to her own little world, her mask hiding her true expression. She shakes her head, taking a deep breath, putting on her bright smile and she offers a wave to the Malvici contingent of Hadrian, Fiora, and Kima, though doesn't interrupt them as they head right to her sister and father. She wiggles her fingers as Ophelia accosts Gareth, nodding a satisfied nod, before seeking out the next soul to insure is enjoying themselves. Prince Vercyn! And my darling cousin, I'm so glad to see you both." She glides her way toward them, motioning about. "The wines are flowing freely, and I've had a bottle of your favorite brought up from the cellar, Valenica, darling. I've given them strict orders they're only to share with people you deem appropriate."
Luca has joined the Libertine Table.

Taking a little longer to close the gap due to how many are moving about, Aurelian eventually comes to settle in near Princess Alis, though instead of taking a seat he more simply stands nearby as thoughh he were a silent sentinel nstea dof a scholar.

"I told you I would," Hadrian says gravely. "I keep my promises. If only all were as much a pleasure to fulfill as this one." He lifts Esera's hands to his lips gently, lowers them, and says, including Niccolo in his address: "Your grace; your grace. The flowers seem as fresh as though we were in Lenosia. Allow me to present my cousin, Lady Fiora Malvici. Fiora, this is her grace Grand Duchess Esera Velenosa, and her father, Duke Niccolo Velenosa." He adds, "I believe you are already acquainted with Lady Kima Saik, a knight in my service."

"I do not know if condolences are appropriate in this circumstance," Hadrian says, tilting his head to the side. "Our thoughts have been with you. But I also promise that we will follow your instructions to the letter: dance, drink, and be passionate. Once you've settled, I am yours for that dance." He bows slightly again, preparing to move out of the way for others to approach.
Calista has joined the Shadowy Alcove.
(OOC) Aurelian says: instead of*
"Have we?" Alis does not seem to recall, and since she's not evn finished her first glass of wine she could be remembering correctly! "I'm Alis Valardin." she replies in return greeting, lifting up her glass in a semi-toast. "And how many of those are you able to drink at a time? I'm already envious. Aurelian, please do sit. Aren't you going to have any wine? We don't want to seem too stuffy." Even -saying- that seems stuffy. But sssshhhh.
Luca looks dubiously at Aurelian, and then smiles. "Hello to you, as well." And then, in a rare show of effort, he repeats the names. "Alis, and Aurelian." He lifts the glass in his left hand in toast and then drains about a third of it in a draught. "Welcome. Enjoy yourselves. Be merry, eat drinks - wait, Princess Alis?" He glances at Isolde.
Isolde nods to Luca, encouragingly.
(OOC) Freja Ninja afk'd, back and catching up! Page me if I missed a pose at me :(
Scattering flower petals as she makes her way toward the cacophony of sound that is the Velenosa Gala, Valencia looks positively enchanted as she takes in the decor and all of the people present. "Princess Isolde, you look beautiful and aren't you the sweetest?" she asks, stopping a server specifically to claim a glass of the southern white she's so fond of. Glass in hand, she takes a sip as she wades deeper into the party, looking to her left and laughing as Vercyn heads off to man the sidelines straight away. "Grand Duchess Esera," she greets her other cousin with overdramatic formality, sweeping an artful curtsy. "As always, you've outdone yourselves," she says with a bright smile. "Have I missed anything exciting? Or dreadful?" she asks, looking around for other familiar faces.
Rohkir just waits, still, out of the way, near the base of the balcony.
Kima will bow again, what with Hadrian having made the introductions. Fully aware that there are many hoping to greet the Duchess and her father themselves, Kima excuses herself from the balcony almost as soon as Hadrian has finished speaking to Esera. Her eyes pass over the assembled crowd, lingering on Isolde for a moment before spying Calista. The Fidante is given a wave, though shortly thereafter, Kima's attention is caught by a server bearing a tray of wine glasses.
Calista has found her perch for the evening it seems. It's a Shadowy Alcove that allows her to wave over folks for more private conversations while still indulging in her favorite past time.. People watching! She waves to Kima in return and expresses through a light gesture of her hand that her 'alcove' is open for more guests.

Aurelian nods to Alis and then glances to the others around his cousin as though checking silently for any objections before taking a seat near his blood relation. He then looks to luca and adds, "Prince Aurelian Valardin, a prince of Valardin." in a formal tone, at least Alis tried to make him less stuffy. He does accept one of the offered goblets of wine, the stem between his second and third fingers as he cradles the bowl in his palm before taking a sip of one of the lighter, fruitier wines as though tasting it for the first time.

Ophelia has joined the Decadent Couch.
"Nothing but a directive from Her Grace to celebrate in true Lyceum fashion. It's time to dust off the old ways, darling." Isolde laughs warmly to Valencia, dipping her head, before gliding her way over toward Rohkir once more. "Prince Rohkir, do you require anything? Introductions to anyone? I believe I'm familiar with most everyone here so far." She laughs warmly, motioning with her fingers.
Isolde's clothing had been giving a glance over, but Freja doesn't comment much on it save, "What would my brother say? Perhaps not that style, as it flatters you far too much. I would not wish to steal your thunder. But we should talk of a set for me soon." Luca gets a slight narrowing of the tall woman's eyes, but it vanishes as quickly as it appears. Aside she comments to Rohkir, "Trouble? Hardly. Not enough drink in me to inspire it." Jaenelle gets a surprisingly bright laugh from Freja and she exclaims, "Is the game afoot already? Let's not break our cover."
"Flowers bloom just as beautifully in Arx," Esera answers Hadrian. While she still holds his hands in hers, she leans in to whisper in his ear. A moment after, she draws a step back. "You have already given me your condolences -- and so I ask for none. Tonight I ask only for your passion." She smiles, in turn, to Fiora and Kima, and bows her head to each. "I am glad to see the Malvici family so well represented in my hall," she says. "Cousin!" she greets Valencia, and offers no overdramatic curtsey of her own, but bows at the waist, fingers just sweeping the skirts of her gown. "The excitement is yours to create," she says.
Alis is going to try really hard not to stare as one third of that glass is drained in a single gulp. Really, she does. "Yes, that's right. Princess Alis. Is... something amiss?" She glances between Luca, and then Isolde as if wondering for a second whether she's already comitted a faux pas that will have to be apologized for. But, then she has another sip of wine. Bcause if she has? Too late now! A sidelong glance at her cousin confirms that he is, at least, trying.
Jaenelle whispers to one of the servants to bring both Esera and Niccolo wine should neither of them have a glass where they are. The look she gives Gareth is not exactly as Isolde did, though there might just be a hint of amusement which is quickly hidden behind her wine glass. Freja is turned to, and she laughs in return, eyes twinkling, "when is the game not afoot, Princess, when is it not. Just know.." She makes an i'm watching you motion and winks.
Niccolo's gaze lingers on Esera, that pride still evident as he remains at her side. He dips his head to her, dragging that gaze to Hadrian. "My lord," he greets the other duke. "My ladies," he extends the greeting to Fiora nad Kima, studying each in turn. "Thank you for joining us tonight," he says and then turns back to Hadrian. "I've mourned my wife already. Hers was a fire that will always keep me warm, even when gone. Today, I celebrate her life. But thank you. Do enjoy yourself, my lord. And in doing so, you'll be honoring her and us." He adds.

Seeing Valencia, he dips his head in her direction, when she greets Esera. "Princess Niece."
Gustave almost got kidnapped to help in the kitchens. The only thing that seems to be keeping him firmly in the noble sphere is the prospect that a seven year old balefully looks at him any time he even thinks about asking for help. Clearly whatever the girl takes after her father in her growing height and steadfast demeanor, it is overshadowed by her social calculus and her determination that her father not embarrass her. Clearly, traits that came from the other side of the family. He's dressed in bone white and black, the colors of his house, and while he has forsaken his armor there is every possibility he would actual manuever more comfortably in it than without. Looking about, studying groups of people, subtly guided on by the expectations of his more socially adroit child. Wine snatched up all too quickly and already through half the glass before he looks for safe harbor. Jaenelle for example gets a wave and an appreciative nod, as do other Valardin by marriage or by birth.
(OOC) Gustave says: asking for=to help*
Fiora nods smoothly to the Grand Duchess, ice blue eyes settling on the bejeweled woman before her with quiet intensity. "It is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance, Your Grace." There is a thoughtful pause. "And you have my sincerest condolences, and my obedience in your request to celebrate and be merry." The Malvici lady turns back towards the flurry of color and activity below the balcony, but doesn't make any movement to depart from her position next to Kima quite yet.
"It is very difficult," Esera says to Fiora, "to be both obedient and passionate, at once."
"It sounds very-very traumatic," Ophelia emphatically breathes towards Gareth to add further emphasis, that previously collected hand now squeezed once more, before released. Following his notice towards Luca and Alis, she beams an immediate dimpled smile and explains of the drinking man without a hint of doubt, "Oh! That's Prince Luca, my brother, Silly. He's so strong and brave and fearsome and skilled and capable. I'd do anything for him. And the woman he's speaking to, I believe, is Princess Alis Valardin, who while I haven't met her, did you know she won a bout of swords in the Tournament against two dozen people all three times her size? If you don't speak to them, you should definitely join the Duchy of the Sidelines. I was inducted last time and I take my civic duty very seriously."
Fiora tilts her head now. "Not if you like the order," she quips back politely.
An impish smile plays at the edge of Freja's lips, but she feigns ignorance. A hand is placed over her heart and she gasps as if scandalized. "Why, Princess Jaenelle! I would -never-. I am the epitome of never having something up my sleeve. "
Vercyn walks closer to the Throne, and inclines his head in greeting to Duke Niccolo, "I swear to you on behalf of House Halfshav that whoever is responsible for the wounds inflicted upon both our houses will be cut down like the dogs they are, your highness. They will be grateful to pass beyond the reflection when I get through with them all." A moment of silence and then he smiles apologetically and clears his throat, "Wonderful party though, thank you both for throwing it." A polite nod to Esera, "Your grace." He wanders over in the direction of the Libertine Table and asks Alis and Luca, "May I?"
Talen steps forward on a whim, daring to move away from the throne he has stood as a sentinel beside for a time now. Spreading his hands over the balcony railing he looks downward, spying the top of heads and watching as they move to and fro. The odd glance is given back toward his charge, the liege lady he's sworn to protect but he seems comfortable with her safety but a few feet away. "The turnout is good, your grace," he intones simply, steely eyes flicking from familiar face to familiar face, but spanning all the unknowns inbetween with hawk-like attention.
Luca is a little crestfallen by all the titles, but he smiles manfully at Aurelian all the same. "Luca - ah, Prince Luca Velenosa, yes. Pleasure to make your acquaintance." Glancing at Alis, he leans towards Aurelian and says, in a whisper he doesn't mean to be subtle at all, "I'm going to ask your cousin to dance. If you want to duel me over it, wonderful! You'll have to find me a sword, though." That warning given, he stands suddenly. Another third of the wine is drained before he sets down both and holds out a hand to Alis. "Would you care to, Your Highness?"
The servants of House Velenosa are on strict orders as regards Gustave, and as soon as they see him enter the ballroom, they usher him (and his daughter) towards a most luxurious couch and all but force glasses of wines and sweet delicacies into their hands. Even if they already have wine. More wine!
Luca nods at Vercyn. "Of course. I won't keep the Princess long, even if she agrees."
Gareth's gaze will seemingly linger upon Isolde for a momment as if watching her every movement.. then shifting to look to Jaenelle, just missing her own gaze, one of those awwkard momments where you think someone is looking at you no doubt. Gareth is being held prisoner, and the man is looking for eye-contact, an excuse, anything. "The Duchy of the Sidelines? I.. what sort of establishment of that? I honestly am having a hard time believing that there is.." He'll hesitate then before sighing audibly, hand reaching up to rest on his forhead. "Were you looking forward to this Gala, Princess Ophelia?" He'll inquire then. "I was."
Vercyn has joined the Libertine Table.
"Uncle!" Valencia greets Niccolo, none so reserved as his formality, and she closes in on him to flutter a wine-scented kiss near his cheek. "Save a dance for me?" she beseeches him before turning to Esera once more. "I shall create away, never fear." She moves away then, heading toward the dulcet tones of disaster-in-the-making. "Princess Ophelia," she greets the young woman. "That tale gets taller every time you tell it, I imagine one of these days even you won't be able to scale that precarious tower." She leans in to air-kiss the Velenosa princess - only then noting the company she keeps. "Oh." Her smile falters only briefly. "Prince Gareth. So very lovely to see you."
Jaenelle gives Freja a look as if she believes every single words the other woman has spoken. "I think yoy have large sleeves and might not know exactly what is in them!" Oh look! Its Gustave! And Jaenelle moves forward smiling mischieviously, cutting off the servant moving to intercept them for a moment. "Marquis" she addresses the large man, hands resting on her hips as she tilts her head backwards to view the man's face . "There are some rules tonight, are you prepared to hear them?" Her brows lift in question as she does her very best to look as as serious as possible.
"Yay! Let's go say hi." Ophelia steps up to Gareth's aid, to rescue him from herself in the most sweet and delighted way possible, which means seeking to reclaim his hand and physically try to haul him from his comfortable couch towards the table where Alis and Luca is. "I'll escort you over there," she says as she persists with contrasting and woefully undying enthusiasm. "Just before I go make other rounds. Let's go, Priiiince."
Freja glances down at her leather arm wrappings and comments matter-of-factly. "No large sleeves tonight, thus nothing up them." Still drinkless, a terrible party foul, the Northern Princess claims a glass of red wine from a passing server with a tray.
(OOC) Ophelia says: I hit enter too soon! Forgive me!
(OOC) Talen says: NO
(OOC) Kima says: Talen is a cold, harsh man.
Alis looks at least passably amused at Luca's stage whisper to Aurelian, and then smiles politely at the Velanosan Prince. "I expect between my cousin and I, the one most likely to duel is me." But she says it fondly of the scholar, and sets her barely touched glass of wine on the table. "I'd be delighted of course." she adds, in response to the request of a dance, just as Vercyn joins the table. "Hello there. Please to meet you." Too many people, too many names, not enough bytes left on the brainusb to remember it all.
"I'm not telling a tale," Ophelia's lower lip juts outwards at Valencia's claim, sniffling once as she reminds, "I missed it, remember?" The silent squee is almost dejected when she had leaned forward, one hand trying to claim Gareth's while she also tries to air-kiss Valencia's cheek, "Princess Cousin, she absolutely fought that many people, so said the person who told me. And if anyone dares challenge that, they can fight my brother Luca!"
Barric arrives.

Aurelian looks to Luca after the whisper but says nothing in response, simply maintaining a neutral expression. He does however lean over, trying to place a hand on Alis' to get her attention before trying to whisper something to his cousin. Once done he straightens and releases her hand to leave the shorter Valardin the chance to respond as she wishes. As Alis moves to accept the dance, Aurelian nods to her and slides her glass over so he can keep an eye on it, mostly so some drunk doesn't try to grab it or the like.

Luca assures the table, "I'll bring her back in one piece." He shows Alis his teeth in a not terribly reassuring smile, and as soon as her hand is safely in his he tugs the tiny princess onto the dance floor. Tug being the operative word. He moves with a surprising amount of grace, crossing to the dance floor in two strides and swinging Alis around so she lands in his arms.
Gareth will soon be tugged up off the couch then as he gives a grunt, his eyes drifting closed, consigned to his fate, he'll offer aloud, not even looking to Valencia. "Your highness, it is a pleasure to meet you again. You seem to be.. enjoying yourself." He'll offer vaugley as he turns his head then, left eye opening to look to watch the festivities elsewhere. "Princess Ophelia, you did not see this feat in person then? That is.. most unfortunate."
Hadrian stood ready to withdraw with those of his House, but he doesn't descend from the balcony yet. Slipping around to where he can speak to Niccolo - and Talen, incidentally - at the railing, he says quietly, "Good evening, Master Artiglio." Then, looking out over the railing rather than speaking directly to Niccolo, he says quietly, "Your grace, I wonder if staying up here in the overlook doesn't insulate you too much from those who have come to join you a night of celebration." He continues speaking to them, though more quietly, turning to look at Niccolo and Talen with an intense gaze.
Luca has left the Libertine Table.
Barric enters the gala from the audience hall, moving at a fair clip into the room with his long strides and his upright posture and his stupidly gallant way of carrying himself. Dressed in a suitably princely manor, the Grayson's eyes scan the room to see who is about. Pretty much everyone. So for the time being he skirts around the edge of the celebration, keeping his distance for the time being until he can get a better feel for the crowd. As he moves, he retrieves some refreshments, picking up a drink here and some food there. Granted, he seems more interested in the Velenosan wine.

Gustave inclines his head. "Princess." He steps back. Nearly avoids being asked why he isn't sweeping or dusting the silver (which knowing the Velenosans is probably actual server). "Are there? I just sort of assumed it was somewhere people were going to pay their respects and not eat alone." Jaenelle receives his utmost attention and he gives the utnmost gravity to her words. Freja also gets a nod and a bow, though he visibly shows signs of 'who is this person I know they are important why is my mind blanking?' "Princess....Redrain?" At least he has the family right. Probably. "So you were saying, My lady? Rules? It seems there are rules for the rules so long as those don't break a rule at these functions."
Esera follows after Hadrian, though it is not, seemingly, to approach Niccolo, but to instead approach Talen. She places one hand upon his shoulder, and asks him, "Will you allow me a dance, my Sword?"
Kima will capture two glasses of wine, one for Fiora, the other for herself. Once they are thus supplied with the heady, rich liquid will Kima say to Fiora, "I'm of a mind to visit with Lady Fidante. It seems a shame, you know, her standing there all by her lonesome." She pauses, offering the taller woman a smile. "Of course, you may wish to remain with your cousin." She didn't want the younger woman to feel as if she had to be pinned to Kima's side, though her company would be most welcome all the same.
Niccolo dips his head at Vercyn's words. "We will find those responsible," he sounds confident of the words himself. His lips form a thin line, and rather than elaborate on what will happen, he inclines his head again. "Thank you, my lord," he tells the man, letting him go off toward the table. He glances at Talen, studying him for a very long moment. He dips his head to the man's words, turning towards the gathering again.

"I will make the announcement soon," Niccolo then tells Esera, before he turns his attention to Hadrian. There's a tilt of his head at this. "Is that your way of asking if you can speak privately with my daughter?" He asks, glancing at Talen. "If so, you'll have to wait until her dance." He dips his head to both Talen and Esera.
"You are to have fun tonight. You are to enjoy the grand hospitality of House Velenosa. You are to relax" Jaenelle tells the much larger man as if commanding an entire army. "Please" is offered with a much more teasing smile. The man's daughter is turned to next and the woman addresses the girl with a warm smile, "you are lovely. Thank you for attending, and if you need anything, please simply ask." With that done, she moves out of the way for the servant to lead the way towards their special couch area. As Barric enters, the Princess moves to intercept the man as he begins his travels, "Prince Barric, do you dance?"
"Oh, is your brother fighting again?" Valencia asks Ophelia, the Redrain princess sweeping her gaze over toward the dance floor in time to see the prince in question swinging Alis about. "Well," she says. "I've not quite seen him that animated in quite some time," she admits. "Good for him." Garett's words draw her attention briefly. "I'm usually enjoying myself, it's a talent I've honed over the years," she notes solemnly. "Enjoy yourselves," she bids the duo adieu, moving toward the edge of the dance floor to watch the pairings, her glass of wine her only company for the time being.
Whatever it is that Aurelian whispers, it makes Alis smile and even chuckle a bit before she nods her agreement and stands up to offer her hand and he tugged out onto the ballroom floor. Fortunately she has a modicum of grace, drilled into her both in dance lessons and the art of swordplay. So she does not, in fact, fall flat on her face. But instead, winds up simply looking surprised by finding herself already neatly held in dancing position. "Well, you certainly know how to make an entrance onto the ballroom floor." she quips.
Alis has left the Libertine Table.
"Prince Barric! I am so -very- glad you could come! Please, eat, drink, and be merry, and do let me know if there is anything you require!" Isolde calls over to the Grayson as he arrives, before looking back to Rohkir."
"What announcement?" Esera asks Niccolo. There is a sense of foreboding, that vanishes just as quickly in the rising music.
Freja inclines her head to Gustave, extending politely, "Yes. Princess Freja Redrain. Daughter of Torrud, former Sword of Farhaven, and sister to the current, Fergus." As he begins speaking of rules, she glances to Jaenelle as clarification is sought.
"Don't you worry about it, my dear. Go, enjoy your dance with your Sword," Niccolo says, nodding towards Talen, hints of too serene a smile touching his lips.
"Prince Gareth can be so dramatic at times," Ophelia lightly laughs, inclusive towards Valencia, dimples pronounced with her cheerful smile, "It's like he's being hauled off to his death or something." After shedding an overly fond smile towards her prisoner-companion, Gareth, she squeezes his hand once more and then graciously sweeps a hand towards the tables, "You can go socialize if you like and I can introduce you to my brother another time. Don't forget to get guards to keep you out of the fire, though, or I'll be very-very cross with you!"
Apostate arrives.
"Your grace, Duke Malvici," Talen permits with a look toward the man he names, eyes quick upon the mark. "It's my duty to remain at her grace's side and--" his eyes cut toward the hand upon his shoulder, "--so it shall be for tonight." Turning then, he bows with all due powerful grace that he can muster. "Of course, every dance I give otherwise is merely borrowed to another," he insists, righting himself to extend his arm gallantly. A twist of his head is given when Hadrian speaks with him and a small inclination of the Sword of Lenosia's head dips an affirmative nod. "In but a moment, your grace, but yes."

Aurelian remains seated, as most of his company has left for the time being, taking another sip of his wine and watching Alis and Lucas on the dance floor. It seems more he is studying Luca however, instead of judging or getting ready for a fight. Perhaps Alis is right and she is the bigger threat if Luca tried anything.

Apostate drops The Scandal Couch.
Talen says, "After you, Archduchess."
(OOC) Talen says: I'm not washing that couch tomorrow.
(OOC) Talen says: Protect yourself or wreck yourself.
"That is good to hear, Princess Valencia." Gareth will respond then as he looks aside to Opehlia for a momment, offering simply. "So Prince Luca is your brother then?" He'll offer leadingly then as his gaze shifts to look at the man... yet it's a short lived interest as Barric's interest almost immeaditly has Gareth's attention snapping to him instead, watching him from afar, there is a slight smile that crosses his lips as he watches from afar. "Of course, I'll socalize right away, Princess Ophelia, please.. excuse me then. I will insure not to cause an.. accidents, do not worry."
(OOC) Isolde says: I was just thinking "Do not take that couch name literally plz"
Apostate drops The Misconduct Couch.
(OOC) Esera says: Or do.
(OOC) Talen says: Do but like burn it with fire
(OOC) Ophelia says: Now we know who made the Murder Couch.
Apostate drops The Immorality Couch.
(OOC) Valencia says: Did we borrow these couches from a Girls Gone Wild set?
Niccolo "And the Duke and whoever else you get to dance with," Niccolo adds to Esera, ending the conversation there as he turns his eyes forward and leans against the railing, thoughtful. "You should enjoy yourself, Your Grace."
Monique has left the game.
Monique has entered the game.
(OOC) Gustave says: Eseraaaaaa! Show us your hooooooooooooters!
Fiora happily takes the glass Kima procures for her. "Thank you, Lady Kima." She takes a hearty sip, but her nose wrinkles from behind the glass when Kima expresses her desire to become acquainted with the Fidante in the shadowy area. She makes an odd sound from the back of her throat once she's finished. "I think I will... watch the dancers." It doesn't sound like she's eager to join Kima, nor stick around on the balcony. And, like she promises, she glides down the stairs and back into the ballroom.
"And the Duke and whoever else you get to dance with," Niccolo adds to Esera, ending the conversation there as he turns his eyes forward and leans against the railing, thoughtful. "You should enjoy yourself, Your Grace."
(OOC) Gareth says: will be taking these couches in for evidence- for when we invent genome mapping.
Luca grins down at Alis, fleeting but somewhat transformative. "I know a great many entrances," he confides. "Just don't see the point." He moves her through a few uptempo turns, weaving effortlessly between the other dancers in the complicated patterns of court dances. "You're a fighter, then? A. . knight?" He hazards.
(OOC) Niccolo says: Stop distracting me all.
Apostate drops The Impropriety Couch.
Apostate is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Apostate's Work Room <OOC ROOM>.

Trapped! Barric is unable to avoid company. It was inevitable, of course. "Your highness, hello. A pleasure, as always, to see you." he inclines his head to Jaenelle, offering the blonde woman a friendly, if small, smile. Lifting his hand, he takes a sip from his drink and comes to a stop now that he's cornered. At Isolde's greeting, he looks over and lifts a hand in silent greeting, the gesture serving as acknowledgement of her offer as well. "I do dance, yes. Well? That would be up to my dance partner, I suppose. Only one way to find out, hmm? Perhaps you'll join me for a dance, then, Princess Jaenelle? I'm assuming," he smiles more easily, "that you were inquiring for that purpose rather than simply to make conversation?"

Into the ballroom comes Monique, a bit late perhaps but better late then never of course. Her gaze takes in the finely appointed room, a warm smile lighting up her face as she moves deeper into the room, eventually making her way to the tables, specifically the wines where she procures herself a glass.
Monique has left the game.
Isolde starts to move about, never staying still at once place for very long. She checks that the wine is flowly freely, occasionally directing a servant to fill glasses, or keep the food table stocked. She goes to the musicians, making sure that the music is varied, but always something that inspires joy and passion, rather than sadness. She rarely takes a glass herself, or stops moving, carefully making sure that no one looks bored or sad.
"Okay! Have fun!" Ophelia dips into a polite and graceful curtsey towards Gareth at the farewell, only to follow up with a cheerful gaze thereafter. "My Brother isn't fighting yet... but he will be. ... I think," she answers towards Valencia, waving her hand herself and then gliding through the floor after an extra wave returned, so-so belatedly to Isolde as she ascends up towards Niccolo's side to impart her greetings.
Esera accepts Talen's arm, so gallantly accepted, in the curve of her own. "In all our years together," she says, "I don't know that we've ever danced." With Talen at her side, she descends the steps. With each step, the skirts of her gown trail out behind her, and shimmer against the marble. "We haven't, have we?" she murmurs. "But I always wanted to ask you, when I was a girl."
"Was that insensitive of me?" Kima asks aloud, though to no one in particular. She then shrugs, and strides with confidence over to Calista. Nearing her place within the shadowy alcove, Kima ducks beneath a low-hanging bit of silk.

"Lady," she greets cheerfully. "I've not had the chance to see you since our night at the Unkindness." The knight positions herself so that she can keep an eye on Hadrian from afar. Though what she might do should he start choking on poison or get stabbed by a horde of servants was, perhaps, beyond even her skills.
Ophelia has left the Decadent Couch.
Gareth takes a very roundabout way through the room. He'll perhaps get close enought o Barric and Jaenelle to hear them speak, and think it best to give them some space, and with that out of the way he'll make his way, carefully over to yet another set of couches.. just to sit down and watch from afar, trying to appear like he is engaged, and watching.
Hadrian nods respectfully at Niccolo, taking two steps back and finally descending back into the throng. He gives an encouraging smile towards Fiora and nods towards Kima and her route to Calista. He takes a different course himself, intercepting the Velenosa who seems to have taken it upon herself to make everyone feel welcome in the rest of the ballroom. "Your highness Isolde," he says in a low voice, with a broad smile. "You are grace itself this evening. May I steal you away to the dance floor?" He extends his arm, ready to escort her over. "It seems fitting you and your sister both lead the way." He raises an eyebrow. "I can come up with endless reasons why propriety demands we dance, but let passion be your guide."
Alis will be happy just to keep up, for now, but she follows a lead rather well. So there are fortunately no forthcoming accidents yet on the ballroom floor. "Sometimes the better entrance is the one less noticed?" is ventired, but she does smile a bit more brightly at the question. "Yes, that's right. I've recently completed my training as a Knight. Are you a fighter, then? It's a shame you could not have been at the tournament Lady Fidante hosted."
Luca has joined the Ballroom Floor.
"I have not made my mind up yet, I just wished to have all the information needed to make an educated decision when the time came. Now that I am aware of your dancing skills, should I wish to utilize them, I am able" Jaenelle says to Barric with a small smile of her own. "I feel it would be unfair of me to steal you away when you've just arrived to the gala and you have not had the proper time to mingle. Please keep me in mind though?" She notes Gareth approaching and turns slightly towards the man, "Prince Gareth, how do you feel about green?"
Alis has joined the Ballroom Floor.
Isolde looks almost startled as Hadrian approaches and she laughs, the sound warm and musical. She takes his arm and nods a little bit, checking on Niccolo first, before she nods toward the dance floor. "If only to make my cousin Luca jealous that I did not dance with him first." She smiles, nodding toward the dance floor. "I make no promises to my skills, however."
Gustave nod and takes Freja's hand...shakes. Once, twice, and nods. 'Yes Princess." Unfortunately it is not ten minutes later after Sigrun nods happily and goes to make her own inner circle that Gustave is told to check on the goose by a twitchy little fellow that is more moustache than anything else. Apparently, even Blackram party best are not sufficient to the standards of the servile clasess. "Excuse me, Princess Freja." He says, and promptly disappears into the bowels of the Velenosan kitchens. He pokes the bird, cuts off a small slice, goes looking for a few more herbs and seasonings. Humming a Blackram shepherds tune as his press ganging does in point of fact turn into him having fun. Certainly being amongst the kitchen staff is far more relaxing than navigating the noble class. As long as Sigrun doesn't notice, of course.
The soft, dark doeskin boots that Talen wears tread the ground with care, each step perfectly aligned with Esera's own as they proceed to the ballroom dance floor. "We have not, your grace. It took me more years to master the steps of the Lenosian Staccato than it did the flourish of a rapier, however; call it me biding my time so that when we eventually did I would be an acceptable partner." Moving as though he expects the sea of dancers to part for his esteemed companion's very presence, those who don't in a timely fashion get his stormy eyes hard upon them. "Give nothing but your all and I shall promise to do the same, Archduchess of Flowers."
Ophelia climbed her way with careful, padding and floating steps up towards the heights which Niccolo occupies, keeping a fond distance between them as she delightedly shares in the sights below. Lowering her voice then, she begins to converse with him after a brilliant smile is given, following her respectful curtsey.
Freja glances down as her hand is shaken, one, twice, ...oh! No third time. Her hand lingers there for a moment before she lowers it to rest it idly on the pommel of her sword. Gustave excuses himself she turns to find a seat. Armed with only a wine glass, she bravely faces the solitary confinement of a couch that leaves her with a good view of the room to blatantly people watch.
Rohkir blinks and rubs his eyes, watching the chaos for a moment, before chuckling. He makes his his way upward, toward Niccolo and gives a polite bow in greeting, now assured that most of the rush is out of the way. "Duke Niccolo, it's good to see you again. Quite the party already, and certainly, an honor to be at." He glances around. "I've missed Her Grace before she descended to the dance floor, but I will catch her to offer her greeting as well when she's the chance."
Freja has joined the The Impropriety Couch.
Trading out her dwindling glass for a fresh one, Valencia carries her wine toward an empty couch, draping herself over it to watch the excitement from the sidelines.
Valencia has joined the The Immorality Couch.
The non-disfigured Grayson prince seems surprised at Jaenelle's sudden departure, perhaps expecting them to go dance. Instead, she's off to see the hideous Grayson, leaving Barric alone again. He's soon wandering off once more, however, making the rounds as people move to the dance floor. He strolls about, aloof from the festivities as he drinks his wine and occasionally has some food.

Hadrian has joined the Ballroom Floor.
Vercyn has left the Libertine Table.
Vercyn has joined the The Immorality Couch.
Isolde has joined the Ballroom Floor.
Kima has joined the Shadowy Alcove.
Gareth will blink then as he glances up to look at Jaenelle now, his lips twisting into a frown. "Green is a color of House Grayson, Your highness.. so I have naught but the highest opinion of it. I worry that I do not look good in it though." Gareth will state then levley and plainly, his eyes shifting to watch Barric then, his gaze soon settling back on the woman before him, his left eye narrowing suspiciously and incredelously then. "The night is long, I was expecting we'd talk later in the evening, please do not let me interrupt your.. own enjoyment."
Niccolo stands by the railing, using his hands to support himself. He looks after Esera and Talen as they step towards the dance floor, his eyes lingering on the two for a long moment. That is, until they see the approaching Ophelia. There's a brief glance past her to Isolde, and he dips his head to her, before he turns to the approaching niece again. When Ophelia reaches in, he leans into her some to listen to her words. He speaks to her in turn, offering his arm to the young woman.

When Rokhir approaches him, Niccolo dips his head to the man. "Your Highness. I'm sure Her Grace will be available for a dance soon. But it's good to see you. If you excuse me, I have to escort my niece to the dance floor." To Ophelia he adds, "Shall we?"
Fiora seems content to watch the dancing more than dance herself, for now. It could be because she also had a glass of wine to drink before she attempts to find a partner. She scans the throng of dancing denizens, making assessments of their dancing skills in her head and observing the social cues between them. Waiting.
"You are... incredibly..." Ophelia's brown eyes travelled up and up over Rohkir's physique and immense height, staring up towards him with an awe-struck appearance from where she lingers near her Uncle's side, "... big. But oh! Are you enjoying yourself so far, Prince?" Her left hand tucks perfectly upon Niccolo's offered arm, sharing another delighted smile aside at him and then looking back towards Rohkir.
Monique has entered the game.
"You are more than acceptable, Talen," Esera promises. She takes him by the hand, out onto the dance floor, and draws him into a slow, sweeping dance. There is an old familiarity in that dance -- not so much for the dance itself, but for her partner. "I will hold you to that promise," she says. "Always."
"Do not let worries of skill impede passion, my lady Isolde," Hadrian advises as he leads the Mirrormask onto the dance floor. "Just follow my lead." He stops to bring his right hand to the small of Isolde's back and his left hand to clasp her right. With a light touch, he moves them both onto an open spot on the floor - a quarter turn away from Talen and Esera - and begins the round.
The Barbarian Prince gives Ophelia a smile, peering down at her for a moment. "Of course, of course! Don't let me interrupt your dance. We'll talk later, if you'd like." There's a gentle inclination of his head, and then he clasps his hands back behind his back.
(OOC) Rohkir says: Should clarify^ Rohkir.
Isolde moves with ease as Hadrian leads them in the dance, though her eyes dart all around the room, even as she tries to focus. "Oh, I never do. After all... my very life path is one of passions unleashed." She laughs richly, nodding a little as she looks back to Hadrian. "And I suppose I do owe you a dance at least for disappearing from the event yesterday. I should have bought up all the art to display here tonight." She moves easily, though there's a tension to her that might not be there on any other night.
"You are most certainly not hindering my enjoyment, Prince Gareth" Jaenelle tells the man is a friendly manner. "We had just not gotten a chance to speak yet and I did not wish you to forget that I told you I would do so should we both have attended, and here we are. Would you like some tea, perhaps water?" The only man to not drink wine in probably the whole room.
(OOC) Aurelian says: thanks for the rp all but gonna head out, just have aurelian fade into the background. at my limit for how much i can take with so many people. enjoy the rest of the scene.
(OOC) Isolde says: Thank you for coming, Aurelian!
(OOC) Luca says: Goodnight, Aurelian.
"I like your scars!" Ophelia cheerfully extends her compliments towards Rohkir, the slim breadth of her shoulders rising in innocence to her own words. Her silken skirts are hemmed short enough to not trip up her movement after, descending alongside Niccolo and sedately conversing with him the entire way down until they might make it to the floor.
(OOC) Aurelian says: just leaving the scene not logging out luca.
Aurelian is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall.
Every step Talen performs is measured, the powerful steely quality of his frame molten under the mutual lead of his partner. As they maneuver around the dance floor, the occasional extension of his arm arcs and twists Esera, letting that iridescite and aeterna dress glimmer in the light of the party atmosphere. "You are looking as radiant as ever," he permits in a voice of rich timbre, the black of his leathers a shadowy contrast. "Rejoice tonight for a future ahead and look not at the past, your grace. All of the worries you would have this evening, let me and my men deal with. The only sad shadows you'll see today are those we chase away."
Gustave is awash in the smells and sounds of Blackram home cookin'. Fat crackling, a bit of seasoning to the greens, a hint of heat. Since there is plenty of food Gustave sets about making proper rib stacking vittles. A chicken pot pie large enough to feed a detachment. Mashing boiled potatoes and adding enough butter and cream to send a thousand lesser warriors to the artery hardened halls of Gloria. Oh the goose and the various finger foods and the wines remained untouched, though Culinarmaggedon procedes unabated. The Velenosan servants may have kidnapped him, but if they wished him to 'check on the goose' clearly it was code for him to impose Blackram order and discipline upon them and show them real food. Humming turns to boisterous singing as politics are forgotten and Gustave perpetrates country cooking on a massive scale. " am I supposed to feed all these people with only three suckling pigs? Well, I suppose we can just double up on the summer vegetables." Clearly Jaenelle, this is what the Rule of Unintended Consquences, Jaenelle.
Niccolo inclines his head to Rohkir once more, then with Ophelia's arm linked with his, the duke makes his way down the stairs leading to the balcony and to the dance floor. Once they reach it, he slides one hand behind Ophelia's back and the other comes to take hers. He leans in as they dance, speaking quietly to the young princess. The duke's movements are deft, with the refined grace of years of dances under his belt.
Esera has left the Grand Duchess Throne.
Esera has joined the Ballroom Floor.
Talen has joined the Ballroom Floor.
Niccolo has left the Grand Duchess Throne.
Niccolo has joined the Ballroom Floor.
"A touch of tea would likley not go unappreciated.. Princess Jaenelle." Gareth will respond easily enough as his, his hand reaching up to his chest. "Thank you for your consideration in that regard as well. I know we spoke of such things.. though I still worry that I have.. interupted something rather important." Gareth notes as he offers a slight twist of his lips into a frown then, though soon enough his expression once more turns to a facade of neutrality. "I at least am reassured that you keep your word, your highness, it warms the heart really."
Ophelia has joined the Ballroom Floor.
Calista is still here, oh yes! She sees all from the Shadowy Alcove and now that she has a partner in crime in Kima, well, let the gossiping begin. Or maybe just friendly chatter. Who can be sure?
Eventually, Barric's circuitous path takes him past the shadowy alcove, at which he glances at in passing. After a brief double take, he pauses and then turns to face the occupants, "Hello, Lady Calista." he greets the Fidante noblewoman pleasantly, offering a nod to the unfamiliar Kima. "I was wondering if I'd find you here. Princess Jaenelle has decided she would like to dance with me, but I am playing hard to get." he glances back and forth between the women and gestures to a place in their sneaky alcove, "Perhaps I might join you for a time? I have wine and all I lack is company."

Rohkir makes his way back down from the balcony, certainly not willing to stand near the throne while no one is up there anymore, and over toward where the others mingle; greetings past, he wanders over toward the couches, having not quite picked one out.
"Your Highness." Monique says in greeting as she approaches Rohkir, "Your outfit is quite wonderful, compliments to your tailor are in order." She says with a warm smile forming on her lips. "It is as impressive here as I would have imagined it."
"The past is not all sad memories, Talen," Esera says to the shadow that dances beside her. "But each night, I dream of the future, of the man I'll marry, one day, and the wars I'll fight. There is so much possibility." As Talen spins her closer, she kisses his cheek. "I have no worries this evening. I have only trust in my Sword."
Draping the length of her left arm almost delicately about Niccolo's shoulders, Ophelia's other hand slips with familiarity into her Uncle's grasp. Each swaying stride or partial turn has her dimpled smile presented over his shoulder, a demure rustle of her skirts whorling about her ankles and hushed words otherwise quietly imparted for his ears alone. Although her steps present a fluid grace, its obviously the moment itself which occupies her fancy more than the act. A single comment has her brow bunching minutely, before she's murmuring more.
Freja motions to her cousin from her couch, "Rohkir, join me if you will?" She holds up a spare glass of wine as bait.
"We've room to spare here," Kima says to Barric, lifting her half-empty wine glass up to him. "If it pleases you to join us, then do so. We shan't turn away your company." There's a faint smile, white teeth gleaming in the relative gloom. "But I cannot promise your safety should any ladies further accost you for a dance."
Jaenelle reaches to gently stop one of the servers to get Gareth his tea, "it is no problem, we simply wish to see that all who have come enjoy our hospitality and see for nothing." She dips her head and takes a step back once that servant has returned with his beverage, though her head tilts slightly as the woman bringing the tea motions towards the kitchens, whispering about the large Blackram. She simply closes her eyes and shakes her head. She's got nothing.
Valencia motions lazily for a server, who after a quiet word from the Redrain princess refills her glass and Vercyn's as well, then moves away as the pair continue their conversation.
Rohkir reaches out, deftly plucking the wine from Freja's fingers, and spinning, easing down back against the couch. He tilts it back, and takes a sip, speaking.
Rohkir has joined the The Impropriety Couch.
Gareth will look up at the servant then, and over to Jaenelle. "There is no rush.. to fullfill this desire, Princess Jaenelle.." Gareth will observe before looking about and over the ballroom floor, his gaze spying upon Isolde and Hadrian then from afar, his left brow ticking up for a momment. "There is just so much going on here tonight.. it is difficult to keep it all straight.." He'll mutter under his breath then. "Trouble brewing?" He'll then mention off-handedly.
Calista looks up from her seat at first then rises to greet Barric with a curtsey. "Prince Barric, it's so nice to see you again. It feels like it's been ages. May I introduce Lady Kima Saik." Gesturing to the lovely blonde who joins her in the Alcove. "I know playing hard to get is your thing. Would you care to join us? We are enjoying the wine and watching those who like to dance do so. You look quite fetching this evening."
Once invited, Barric slips into the alcove with the pair, moving to seat himself on the end of the now-trio by Calista. "Thank you, my ladies." he nods and smiles graciously at the pair and then settles down comfortably, now able to watch the goings-on of the gala without strolling about all night. "Lady Kima, hello. A pleasure to meet you. Prince Barric Grayson." introductions made, he laughs softly at Calista's response and then nods gratefully, "Thank you. You may be surprised to know that I chose my own clothes!" as if he were some daft fool. Well, when it comes to clothes, perhaps he is.
Barric has joined the Shadowy Alcove.
Food, glorious food. The Marquis Blackram finds himself free of containment, carrying a couple of platters. One of which, fortunately, is reserved for himself, perching a glass of wine in that modicum of space between the various meats, greens, and cheeses he has assembled. He looks around, passes by Jaenelle. "They needed help...and it was fun. And I enjoyed their hospitality?" He offers a section of cheese wrapped in smoked meats. "Come, have some. Their kitchens are well stocked, though I suspect I'll have to send some git baskets." He says conversationally. Then he looks down. Hurricane Sigrun seems to be holding it in well, but she masquerades it with a small smile and goes looking for the nearest circle to charm. They will have words later. "Prince Gareth, an honor My Lord. Fish? Pork? Goose? Perhaps something of a more plant persuasion?" He asks, offering from his platter.
Receiving the kiss without a blink, the Sword to Esera sets his liege lady into her spin and reclaims her with a firm tug on her arm, deftly moving into the last leg of the dance. "All will play into your hand exactly as you would wish it or I will rend alaricite to make it so," Talen vows upon the ballroom floor, every transition carefully poised. The breathy words that leave him in husher tones are whipped away by wind stirred up by the force of the dance. "Come, your grace, there is a whole floor who waits with baited breath to see you dance again but I have already stolen mine. The Duke Malvici is just there, shall we trade partners?" he voices loud enough for the floor as a whole to hear.
Rohkir is a large man, and while Freja is pretty damn tall herself, her bear of a cousin plopping himself down on her couch is comical in that it sends the piece of furniture back an inch or two. The royal scout has to steady her glass of wine, long legs, leaving the floor for a moment as the couch is jolted back. "How kind for you to join me..." and then her words trail off and become softer.
Niccolo continues his dance with Ophelia, skillfully leading her away from the path of the other dancers. His is a style that seems to merge the more classic steps with more modern ones preferred by today's nobility. Flowing with the music, he leads the princess into a spin, and follows it with a small dip, holding her and the pose for a moment, before he pulls her up and seamlessly back into the steps of the dance.
(OOC) Gustave says: Gift, not git baskets* >.>
(OOC) Valencia says: A basket of gits sounds unpleasant.
(OOC) Alis dies. A git basket.
"Getting rid of me already!" Esera says to Talen, but it is with a warm laugh. "You are sure the Duke will have me?" She glances to Hadrian, with his own partner upon the dance floor.
Rohkir glances sidelong at Freja, speaking lowly. The Prince watches the dance floor as much as she does, smiling at times.
Talen says, "If he does not, all respect due to the man himself, I will break his legs and ruin his face so nobody will have him."
Valencia is overheard praising Talen for: The man has a way with words.
Rohkir takes another sip of his wine, humming a low note, thoughtfully.
"Of course not, no trouble" Jaenelle says, offering Gareth a delightful smile once more. "Though Prince Barric is playing hard to get this evening. I think he is a fine dance, though he seems to be holding out on me. I think that is a Grayson trait" she says with amusement. As Gustave comes from the kitchen carrying whatever it is he does, and offers her a piece of cheese wrapped meat the woman bravely accepts it, "I am glad you are enjoying yourself then, and I am well aware of the state of the kitchen Marquis, I live here, and will most certainly accept a gift basket filled with baubles." She winks at the tall man and falls quiet as he harrasses Gareth now.
"Blackram." Gareth will state then as he looks to Gustav with his piercing blue-violet gaze. "Your generosity and charm have persuaded me to at least consider the offer, but I must decline.. your misbegotten spoils are your own and I am afraid of offending our hostesses." Gareth responds. "Though I must admit, such behavior speaks well to your confidence at the very least. The compact could use more men like you. In the right places anyway." Gareth will then adress Jaenelle then. "Barric is a man of valor and charisma, he is a hard man to wrangle and pin down at the very least.. I think thats just half of his charm however."
Calista reclaims her seat in the Shadowy Alcove and gently fixes the skirts of her violet silks. She slips her arm in Barric's and murmurs something quietly to him with the tickle of a wicked grin on her lips.
Hadrian can't possibly miss that obvious threat from next to him, but when he draws Isolde to a stop, he says something quietly, face unbearably sincere, leaning his forehead closer to hers, cupping her cheek in one hand, raising her other to kiss lightly, and then - only then! - turning to Talen with sharply raised eyebrow. "Master Artiglio, please. You may save the foul play for tournaments," he says smoothly, "For Her Grace's wish is my desire." He passes Isolde to Talen and reaches for Esera's hand, bowing slightly and moving into a closer clasp, murmuring a few words, and leading off, smiling gentlly.
Isolde laughs brightly after murmuring with Hadrian and she looks over to Esera and Talen. "I think I can relinquish my hold on the Duke for you, sweet sister. Though, I do believe I'm getting the better part of this bargain. Our Sword is a delight, as always." She twirls and reaches out to take Talen's hand next.
After a few more quiet words exchanged between Niccolo and Ophelia, the duke picks up the tempo of the dancing, and leads the princess through it. He lets his hand drop from her back, taking her other hand in his. He steps into a series of half-spins that are never quite complete and ends up with a spin that leaves Ophelia dancing with her back to her uncle. That position doesn't last long, as Niccolo spins her again and returns her to a more normal dancing posture, with his hand dropping down to her back once more.
"Your Highness." Monique says in greeting as she approaches Rohkir and Freja's couch they've occupied, performing a formal curtsey before the two "Your outfit is quite wonderful, compliments to your tailor are in order." She says with a warm smile forming on her lips. "It is every bit as impressive as I imagined it to be."
Alis has left the Ballroom Floor.
Alis has joined the Libertine Table.
Deva arrives.
Freja turns her keen gaze to Monique, curiously studying the woman as she approaches. She gives a side glance to Rohkir, as if just taking note of his attire now that the other woman has mentioned. She remains quiet, more with an air of being polite rather than being frigid. It was her cousin who was complimented after all. A small nod of agreement is given behind a sip of wine.
Esera glances back over her shoulder to Talen, a long look given him, as she takes Hadrian's hand and is drawn away, into another dance. She smiles to Hadrian, though hers is not a gentle smile, nor her amber-eyed gaze soft or sweet -- but there is fire in both, burning so much brighter than the pale gown she wears. She murmurs a response to him.
Talen slips his hand free of Esera to permit her passage across the floor in a whisper of Aeterna silk, toward Hadrian. "You must forgive my hot blood, your grace. I say these things aloud without thinking, my words ring true all the same, however. I don't doubt you'll treat her grace with the utmost respect but it is catharsis to speak of the desutrction of all who displease her," is assureed by the Sword to the the Southport Duke. Linking fingers with Isolde and pulling her toward him with determined effort then, he speaks: "Ah, my favourite Mirrormask of them all, how do you do. What dance will we have?" he asks, listening to the drum of the music and strum of the harp before falling as expected into one of the collection of suitable dances. Bowing his head, whispered words are permitted the Velenosan princess, a twist of his lips given in dark mirth.
"Well then, we'll try to find something that suits your taste, though I will warn you we tend to bestow more...earthy gifts upon those we favor." He says and bows, Gareth's rebuke catching him and causing a slightly confused gesture. "Misbegotten? I made enough for at least four of my kin, which would feed..." He starts counting underneath the platter, but quickly gives up. "Well a lot. But, more for everyone else I guess." Off he goes to find a shadowy corner to hang about in, occupying his own little kingdom of the Sidelines with his meal for the evening. Wathing, studying, pondering the various parties and their dances, both physical and otherwise.
Rohkir lifts his gaze from the floor, where everyone dances upon being spoken to again, attention shifting to Monique. "Lady Monique, it is good to see you again, and so soon as well!" He laughs though, at the comment of the tailor and motions the woman over, "She did a grand job for the limited amount of time I gave her, aye. Sometimes, you've just got to work fast, and get things done quickly." He pauses, and rises from his chair, and motions, "Lady Monique, this is my cousin, Princess Freja of Redrain."
Gustave has joined the Shadowy Corner.
Every capricious spin directed by Niccolo has Ophelia ever following, with only the flighty drift of her ribbon-adorned ringlets across her bared shoulders and the fond delight of her expression untamed. Any intensity the steps of the well-practiced dance might've taken are exchanged for unguarded and familial comfort. As the faintest flush suffuses her dimpled cheeks, she can hardly prevent that flit of laughter when she deviously responded.
Rohkir gives a lopsided smile that's half smirk. "Perhaps I'm wrong, but something tells me you'll both get along fabulously."
"I am sure that is half his charm" Jaenelle agrees with Gareth, laughing lightly. "Your tea is on its way, Your Highness, forgive me, I have a few more people that need my presense in their lives or I fear they will wither away forever."
Freja deadpans to her cousin. "You? Wrong? Never." She rises to properly greet the Lady, "Lady Monique. A pleasure. As he said, Freja Redrain from Farhaven." Another indulging moment in her wine and she asks, "So you have the know who of a good tailor? Or were you not the one who told my cousin here who to go with?" Her words favor brevity, but it does not make them any less polite.
Duty done, at least by his reckoning, Luca rakes a hand through his overlong hair and ambles off the dance floor, all his competent grace left behind with the dancers. He captures a fresh drink from a scurrying servant, wandering towards the food.
Luca has left the Ballroom Floor.
Gareth will lift a hand then to offer a slight dismissive wave to Jaenelle then as he offers a nod. "Do not let me keep you any longer then you feel is neccessary. Thank you for speaking with me, now.. please.. do enjoy yourself." Gareth will state as his lips purse then as he turns to watch the festivities now with a bit more intensity.
"Howling at the moon never won anyone's heart!" This laughter-riddled exclaimation comes from the couch where Valencia sits, her expression one of absolute amusement, and with a sip of her wine, she waves off a concerned looking guard before lowering her voice again as she continues her conversation.
Rohkir glances aside at Freja, amused. "Cousin, dear, there's a woman of some talent with needle and thread that you pass by daily. Perhaps your eyes grow weary from too much scouting. Mine did not. Morrighan is, after all, very creative if this is any indication."
"It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Your Highness." Monique says to Freja now, offering the woman a curtsey of her own. "I cannot claim to have directed your cousin to the one who fashioned his attire, saddly, but should I hear of one I would be happy to send them your way. I'm still learning the ins and outs of the city myself. I had a wonderful conversation with your cousin earlier though about the fine leathers and furs favored in your home."
The wine now finished, Fiora turns her attention to the giant nobleman feasting in his shadowy corner. Though tempting, she did not eavesdrop on the conversation he had with Gareth and Jaenelle, and to her it looks like he's simply hoarding all the good eats. Of course, she wasn't entirely sure why he was serving them in the first place, and it was clear Gustave came from the kitchens. "Are those... yours, my lord?"
Hadrian leads Esera into a twirl and a dip straightaway before bringing them back across the floor two steps at a time, punctuated by a quarter-turn, his frame a solid and reliable anchor for the movements he guides Esera into with a half-smile. Only when a back-spin brings them back to front - with inches to spare. One more dip, and they continue. His mouth is moving once her ears are near.
Monique has left the game.
Monique has entered the game.
Alis has left the Libertine Table.
Alis is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall.
Esera's nails dig into Hadrian's hand, just strong enough to turn the dance another direction. She steals the lead, but only for a few steps -- and then surrenders it to him again. With each spin, the skirts of her gown shift, her legs (and the pearls that twine up them) revealed by one turn, hidden by another.
"Morrighan? I have not met her nor come across her." Freja gives Rohkir a one-handed shove on his upper arm, but the man does not budge an inch - she did it playfully anyways. "My eyes, weary? You're in your drinks." Her familial teasing at a pause, the scout has her full attention back on Monique. "Still learning? Not from here?" She gestures to her own attire. "Only the finest. Durable, smooth, and easily embellished with ornamental decoration. Have you ever tried wearing it yourself?"
Jaenelle smiles and dips her head politely as she is officially dismissed by Gareth, "enjoy the rest of your evening, Prince Gareth." She turns slightly, handing her empty wine glass to a passing server as she begins to head away from the couch the man sits and on to another. "Prince Rohkir, I had not had the pleasure of greeting you yet, as you moved towards the thrones and I did not wish to interrupt. Please, enjoy your evening." She politely dips her head before she once more looks towards Freja, "I have not seen you dance, I'm devastated, and now I must slip away and might never have that chance."
Freja murmurs something to Jaenelle as she passes, tactfully behind her wine glass.
The Velenosa duke leads Ophelia through slower steps now, still in tune with the music. He takes a moment to glance at the other dancers, and loses himself in his thoughts for just a moment. He turns to his niece then, speaking quietly to her. In response to Talen, he purses his lips and adds, "Heard what?" This as he passes him and Isolde by. After whispering to Ophelia, he starts leading her out of the dance floor and back to the balcony.
Luca grabs another roll. Fresher than the one he came in with, anyway, and stuffed with cheese and fowl and who knows what all. He carries it, with his drink, to the nearest couch and tumbles over the arm to sprawl on one end. By Gareth. "Hi," he greets, and then tears into his food.
Luca has joined the Decadent Couch.
Rohkir draws his gaze, which had at some point drifted back to the dance floor to Jaenelle, blondish brows raising. "Princess Jaenelle, my apologies. I stuck with formality, but here we are. You look lovely tonight, of course." He lifts his glass and takes a sip, before continuing. "Are you departing, then?"
Jaenelle pauses to hear Freja's words, eyebrows arching as if issuing a challenge perhaps as she can't help but grin. Straightening, she nods to Rohkir, "I believe I am. A good thing about having an event here is that my bedroom is down the hall."
Gareth will not look up at Luca when he greets him, but instead recite quickly. "Prince Luca, Brother to Princess Ophelia, correct?" Gareth inquires then as he turns his gaze to look up at him ever so slightly, lips twisting into a frown. "Your reputation proceeds you.." He'll state simply, hands clasping together in his lap as he doesn't move to stand, but instead dips his head quite a bit as if making to motion like he is attempting to show some level of respect to the man.
Freja turns bright red, her cheeks flushing almost enough to rival her wine that the imbibes again and none too lightly at whatever Jaenelle said.
"I am from the Green Marches, Greenmarch now." Monique replies to Freja's question, "I am rather familiar with Sanctum, though I never had much cause to come out here until recently." she says, smile remaining upon her lips. "And of course, I grew up in leathers and such like that, I still fancy them from time to time, though I do quite enjoy the feel of fine silk as well. My Sister.. I do not even know if she owns anything made of silk." Her attention shifts slightly towards Janelle as she nears, offering a curtsey to the woman, "Your Highness."
Party time. Deva arrives, looking mostly respectable with brushed and braided hair and a clean, crisp blue gown. Upon spying fellow Redrain, she greets Freja and Rohkir with a bright smile and wave of her hand. Her first stop is claiming a stiff drink from one of the lovely decorated tables.
Luca stops in his tracks. His tracks are just reclining there and eating, but he stills for a second anyway and then manfully finishes his bite. "Er. Yes, that's me." Dark, dark eyes glance out into the crowd, searching for his sister. "Does it?" He asks of his reputation, tilting a half smile towards the Grayson. "Now if I can just teach it to clean up after me, I'll have a nice trick for myself." Food devoured, he wipes his hand on his pants with absolutely no self-consciousness. "And you are?"
Rohkir laughs, rubbing a hand back over his head to brush red-blond hair out of his eyes. "Fair enough, Princess. I'll not attempt to keep you. It was good seeing you though, and should you need anything, feel free as always to send word."
Gareth's gaze will drop to Luca's hands and the crumbs.. or perhaps even stain he will leave on his clothes before his chin lifts slightly then, lips twisting into a frown. "Prince Inquisitor Gareth Grayson. A pleasure, Your highness." He'll pause then to offer simply. "I would hope for both our sakes thouth that your reputation could or would do no such things, such a man of your.. talents would be a grave loss if you were to be accused of magicks. I digress however, enjoying your time here at the Gala?" Gareth will inquire then, now glaring, staring even at the man.
Niccolo leads Ophelia from the dance floor, then up the stairs to the balcony. Once they reach the balcony, he speaks quietly to her. His expression is briefly nostalgic, before he steps toward the railing, and clears his throat. He gestures for the music to stop.

"If I could have your attention, my friends, for a moment," the duke says, his deep and grave voice booming.
Niccolo has left the Ballroom Floor.
Ophelia has left the Ballroom Floor.
Niccolo has joined the Grand Duchess Throne.
Rohkir lifts his eyes to Niccolo, brows raising.
Laughing, Valencia motions a server over, and rather than have him refill her glass, she simply relieves him of the bottle of wine altogether before shooing him off. She refills Vercyn's glass, and then her own as well as Niccolo's voice rings out, and she tells Vercyn, all serious expression and teasing eyes, "I'll tell you -after-."
Isolde looks up from her dance with Talen and she laughs lightly. "Calista, darling! What do you think, are you up for a dance with my darling Sword? I fear he grows tired of my stepping on his feet. I beg of you, be my dancing champion, and save him from being lamed?" She grins, shaking her head a little bit, light hearted and amused. SHe squeezes Talen's fingers. "Thank you for the dance, darling."
Hadrian brings his dance with Esera to an end, turning to look up at Duke Niccolo with the Duchess's hand still in his own, features schooled to stillness.
Luca's brows climb up a little. Gareth gets facial expressions out of him. "A pleasure to meet you. Let me know if my reputation does anything particularly heretical and I'll have a word with it." He smiles, brief but unaffected, into the glare.
"Lady Monique" Jaenelle greets the woman warmly, "please enjoy the gala, if you need anything, do not hesitate to request." She looks far too amused at Freja's reaction, looking around the room before she points towards Luca, throwing the man under the bus. She pauses though before replying to the Redrain Princess to listen to Niccolo.
A purer smile was provided to Niccolo at his words, with Ophelia accepting that chaste kiss upon her cheek before she'd stepped back to allow all attention back upon Niccolo. Descending then to duck out of sight, she collapses into a bustle of skirts and yet still impeccable posture right beside Luca and on the other side of Gareth, "No torturing during the announcement."
"I own no silk here." Freja openly admits to Monique, glad for the distraction from whatever caused her cheeks to blush so vividly. "Was the transition a..well, hard one?" A note of honest curiosity lingers in that question as Deva approaches her and Rohkir. Nudging Rohkir in the side with her elbow, Freja stage-whispers, "Think she saw us?!" She laughs brightly and returns the wave. She falls silent as Niccolo asks for the floor.
Luca drops an arm over Ophelia's shoulders, looking at Niccolo expectantly.
Talen throws his arms and folds into a bow for Isolde, a glint in his steely gaze hinting on humour. "I would never," he insists, but does not specify what he wouldn't do, say or hear of. Relinquishing the Mirrormask woman, a few hushed words are given before he steps aside and leaves her to flee his company.
Gareth will just give an incredelous look to Ophelia as she sits dwon beside him before swalloing slightly and shaking his head. Thank the gods for Niccolo being an excellent distraction then as he looks up to the throne.
Gustave listens quietly, inclining head towards Niccolo as he waits for the words to be delivered. Only chewing and swallowing distracting him from his focus.
"I see nothing!" Deva holds a hand up to shield her eyes, while giving Freja and Rohkir a playful smile. "Having fun?" Fingers curled around a whiskey, she squares her shoulders and turns at the waist to look out at the crowd gathered. Valencia and Vercyn are on the receiving end of a cheerful finger-wiggle from her free hand.
Spotting Deva, Valencia beckons the Redrain princess over to the couch as everyone waits for Niccolo's announcement.
Ophelia has joined the Decadent Couch.
Conspiring with Kima and Barric, Calista hears Isolde calling her name but it's Niccolo who has drawn the attention from the crowd.
Isolde has left the Ballroom Floor.
Monique no doubt was intent on replying to Freja's question, but the call for the floor issued has her attenton shifting towards the throne.
Isolde slips away from Talen and the dance floor, picking back up where she left off, stopping by the different groups, exchangning light words, making sure everyone has enough drink. She carefully avoids anything that would be awkward to stumble upon, and makes it clear she's not eavesdropping at any moment.
Deva has joined the The Immorality Couch.
Her eyes alight upon the throne, expectantly, but otherwise Fiora remains silent.
Talen turns his head to look in the direction of Esera and her partner, his focus returning then to Calista. Since the call seemed to be scattered to the music, the Sword of Lenosia strides forward and moves toward the couch in which she's present. "Your highness," he says first to Barric, "my ladies. Might I borrow the Lady Fidante for a dance? You each look comfy and the alcoves of this very room are known to encourage bonds between strangers," he insists for both Kima and Barric in turn.
Vercyn smiles at Deva, losing a glower he had a moment before, "Welcome to the Greater Duchy of the Sidelines, your highness." He gestures grandly at the Immorality Couch.
"I married out of love," Niccolo begins, letting those words sink for a moment as he studies the gathering from the balcony. "I was born with a set path in front of me. A path that was righteous, that would have led to me leading the House of my birth. I trained with the military of the House of my birth and I fought at their side. It was an honorable path. A path worth fighting for." He pauses, and turns his eyes to both Esera and Isolde.

"And then I met Princess Carlotta Velenosa," Niccolo says, and that smile is almost there. So close, threatening to fully develop. "All my life before her, I had fought for what I thought was my destiny. But in her, I found my true destiny, my true path to follow. And I did the one thing I knew how to do." A pause. "I fought for it."

Niccolo turns from his daughters to the guests. "Some would say, I went to war for it. With my House, her House, everything and everyone. I fought in the Tournament of Roses. I won her hand. I married her. And she and I were one ever since... until the day she was taken from me," those last few words are delivered with dark tone. And yet, there's a faint smile.

"So. Her Grace, now sits at the throne. And most of you would have noticed. I sat at her side. That can't be the case for the rest of her life. She deserves better. She deserves a man that will go to war for her. Bleed for her. Fight for her. A man willing to soak the ground with his blood if that means proving he is worthy of her." He tilts his head at Esera. "So in order to find this man, House Velenosa will host a tournament some time from now. And those wishing to court my daughter? Are to enter that tournament. Those that do not, I will not even consider," he makes a cutting motion with his hand. "For she is Her Grace, but I am her father. To sit at her side is to bleed for her. And I will accept nothing less." He allows hints of a smile again. "Now please, continue to enjoy yourselves, and thank you for joining us tonight." He claps, and the music resumes.
Esera listens to Niccolo's announcement with approximately the expression of a woman who has just learned she'll be stuck cleaning blood off the floor forever.
"It would be crude of me to deny the Sword of Lenosia a dance with a lady so lovely as our friend Calista Fidante," Kima replies airily to Talen, though her gaze isn't really on him. Rather, she's looking past him, to Niccolo. "Hmm? Bonds between strangers, you say? One hopes it is from personal experience from which you speak. However..." She crosses one leg over the other, and flips a lock of her blonde hair over a shoulder. "I confess, I feel the bond between the prince and I already strengthened."

Of course, all words trail away when Niccolo gives his speech. Kima listens, and finally...finally, gives Talen her fullest attention.
Ophelia expels a long, shoulder-deflating breath, looking up towards Niccolo as she relays to Gareth and Luca, if only by proximity, only, "That is so-so-sooo romantic."
Isolde listens to her father's words, withdrawing into the shadows for a moment, taking a glass of wine with her. And then a bottle of wine.
Luca glances at Ophelia, uncertain. "It is?" He's not so sure what constitutes romance. "Do you want a tournament for your hand, Phil? You'll have to wait at least a year after Esera's. No. Two." He pauses; does a bit of mental math. "Wait, how old are you? At least five years."
Jaenelle listens to Niccolo's words, glancing towards Esera afterwards. Once the music begins again, the Princess takes it as a distraction to turn and slip from the ballroom.
Gareth is overheard praising Niccolo for: He reminds me of a certain Grayson- The Rebel Queen
Jaenelle is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall.
"If you would excuse me." Calista offers to Barric and Kima before rising from her seat. "Master Talen, I would be delighted to join you on the dance floor. I feel it would be a disservice to the Grand Duchess' memory if I do not have at least once dance in her honor this evening." She extends a graceful hand to Talen allowing the man to lead her to the dance floor.
Calista has left the Shadowy Alcove.
Freja quirks a brow, but says nothing on the announcement just yet. A curious glance is given to Jaenelle as she leaves. Turning back to Rohkir and Monique, she asks, "So, the transition from leather to silks?"
"Very romantic," Valencia agrees mildly. "Until Josen Diddlewank from Nowhere Marsh causes a tournament upset." She sips her wine delicately, shifting her gaze from Niccolo to Esera, stark pity written across her features before she turns her attention toward Deva.
Luca tells Valencia, in a tone much richer and darker with promise than his usual nonchalance, "We wouldn't let that happen."
Rohkir peers up at Niccolo from where he sits, tonguing the inside of his cheek and relaxing back, thoughtful. Then, after a moment, his eyes shift to Esera, noting her expression. He chuckles, a gravelly, bass sound that hardly seems amusement. He speaks aside, at Valencia, "The Duke is a smart man. He never said the winner gets her hand."
"Romantic you say?" Gareth will respond then as his eyes cut to the side to look to Ophelia then. "That is one way to look at it I suppose, your highness." He'll look up then to Luca, trying to contain the wry little smirk on his features. "Five years might not be long enough.. Prince Luca.."
Ophelia is temporarily caught up in her own personal reverie of Niccolo's words, looking to Gareth with a renewed smile, "So I was right. With echoing screams then. See? I wasn't that off at all. You're just better at it than the stories." But her dimples show when she looks towards Luca, lashes fluttering prettily as she explains, "Oh no, Brother Dearest. I'm assured, just now on the dance floor even, that you must be married before me unless I find the perfect person to hunt. I will not have to worry about that for a long time."
"How exciting!" Monique says, her attention turning back towards Freja and Rohkir at the couch, "Are you going to enter, Prince Rohkir?" she asks, "I imagine you would put on quite the show." She looks back to Freja, "Where were we.. Oh, right, well. It was rather easy, as easy as slipping on or off a dress really. I spent a lot of time in and out of Sanctum before my family joined the compact."
Hadrian stares at Niccolo while the man speaks, clearly intrigued that the man would weigh in so forcefully. He turns his head to Esera, raises her hand, says something softly, kisses the back of her hand lightly, and releases it into a deeper bow than he usually would grace anyone but a Majesty with. "Thank you for the dance." His smile is small.
"Then what," Valencia asks with a cordial smile, "Is the point?" She gestures vaguely. "Nevermind, I'm sure it'll be fine. Too much good wine," she excuses herself from the conversation, turning her attention fully back toward her couchmates.
Isolde has joined the The Scandal Couch.
Esera looks up at the balcony, where her father stands. She bows her head to him, eyes closing. As she lifts her head again, her eyes reopen, and though her expression is neutral, her eyes are fierce. "Then I will marry a warrior," she says. "I will the honor the love that my father fought for. The love that my mother /lived/ for, as equally as she lived for the Lyceum."
Luca quips at Gareth, 'You're kidding me, right? I can hardly wait to get rid of my rascal -" He stops at Ophelia's words, turning to her with a blank look. A blank look that quickly melts into an unsettled one. "What? Really? That hardly seems anyone."
"I win," Ophelia simply chirps in return to Luca.
"Indeed," Talen allows for Kima, first spotting the way her eyes lift to the balcony and then turns so he might listen himself. When Niccolo's speech is over, the Sword purses his lips and scans the crowd, memorising faces as he does so. A long look in his liege lady's direction is given, across the room, as if to gauge her reaction... and then he steps toward Calista, accepts her hand and draws the woman toward the dancefloor. "You do me an honour, Lady Fidante. We must dance now, something exciting, brisk and truly Lycene. You owe me that much for disqualifying me," he jests with dead-pan tone to boot.
"Just to narrow down the field, right? Should be fun to watch!" Deva leans forward from her spot on the edge of the couch, flashing Luca a quick smile before she turns to address the others at her couch. "I'm terrible with riddles, but let's hear it!"
Luca attempts to give his sister a noogie. Then Deva is smiling at him and he didn't even realize she was attending. He freezes with that arm trapping Ophelia again, and the other hand lifted to (at least threaten to) ruin her hair. "Maybe," he hazards at the Redrain princess, with a smile.
Vercyn grouses to Deva outloud as he throws up his hands in despair, "It's an impossible riddle!"
Hmmm. Challenges for maidens hands. The fallout that ensues. Challenges and whom will challenge whom. Gustave grunts and raises a glass, then goes to collect his wayward daughter. "Time for bed. I'll probably belong shortly." He explains as he shuffles the child off to bed. All this talk of romance and love in the air...there may be a bar in Gustaves future tonight.
(OOC) Gustave tips hat, fleeees.
Gustave is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall.
Gustave has left the Shadowy Corner.
Gareth however seems less intent on speaking now- but instead has taken to studying faces around the room, considering what each reaction is then plastered upon peoples faces. His lips will twist into a frown then for a momment as he moves a hand to rub under his chin.
"It is not," Valencia tells Vercyn. "It isn't," she assures Deva. "It goes like this," she says, before lowering her voice once more.
"Will you enter?" Freja asks of Rohkir, her voice annoyingly even in tone as it tends to be. "It is a fascination for me, truly, to think of the transition. I grew up among soldiers, a scout myself. I've lived almost entirely in armor, leathers, and furs..." She explains to Monique, "Though other fashions have been humored, or the lack thereof."
Kima bids Barric to excuse her, leaving the alcove shortly after Calista does. She's in search of everyone's favorite Mirrormask. And if she's not your favorite, you're obviously not from the Lyceum.
Kima has left the Shadowy Alcove.
"Riddles?" Ophelia's attention was perked, neck half-caught by the embrace of her Brother, with his knuckled poised in hover over her non-threatening head, "Oh. Wait. I'm really bad at those." Near-pouting, but not quite, she tries to send a couple of elbows into her brother's ribs, before whispering.
Isolde takes her bottle of wine and curls up on a couch, tucking her legs underneath her. Her eyes still flicker around the room with a little too much awareness and energy, but she lets herself sit and relax for a moment. SHe motions for a servant to bring over another glass as she spies Kima heading in her direction.
Calista rolls her head back as the laughter trills in her throat. She gives Talen's arm a little squeeze. "I see, very well. I will do my -absolute- best to make it up to you, Master Talen." Her voice drops into dulcet whispers before they take their position on the dance floor.
Kima has joined the The Scandal Couch.
Calista has joined the Ballroom Floor.
"Nothing is impossible!" Deva scoffs at Vercyn. "Except enjoying perpetual sobriety. -That- is impossible." With an amused shake of her head for Luca, she presses her elbows to her knees and turns all her attention to Valencia to listen to the other woman. Her whole face scrunches up in deep thought.
"Don't frown so," Valencia tells Deva automatically. "You'll wrinkle."
Rohkir finally pushes up and steps away from the couch, away from his family to stride, slow and measured toward where Esera stands, pale eyes firmly fixed on her even as her stare is for her father. He doesn't answer the people who'd directed the question at him, twice in fact, but instead comes to a stop next to her, offering a bow and his hand. "Would you honor me with the next dance, Your Grace?"
Rohkir has left the The Impropriety Couch.
"Too late," Deva murmurs gravely to Valencia. "I'm doomed. Hold on, I've got to think this through."
Gareth will still take his time to study and watch the room in general, though his gaze will soon finally settle upon Niccollo once more, studying the man from afar, his expression neutral. Without even turning aside, he'll say rather loudly. "I do not want a bear, Princess Ophelia. Please."
Hadrian leans close to Esera to return a soft reply, both eyebrows raised. He almost has the manner of a concerned man waiting to be dismissed - a posture no one in this room has probably ever seen him take.
Luca frowns at Gareth, a hint of menace on the horizon. "If my sister gives you a bear, you'll take it with your thanks, Your Highness."
Kima will unceremoniously flop herself upon the couch beside Isolde in true decadent Lycene fashion, arms and limbs going akimbo with very little regard for her dress. "Your Highness," she begins, reaching out to simply...take that bottle of wine. Which she begins to bring to her lips before her brows lifting in surprise, as if just now remembering something like manners. "May I?" She doesn't appear to be drunk, however.
"It would be _rude_ not to accept gifts, Prince Gareth," Ophelia also rather loudly replies, rolling her eyes with some exasperation. Dipping her head promptly, she mentions, "Thank you, Brother."
Niccolo remains at the balcony, leaning against the railing and using his hands to support himself. A servant approaches him with a goblet of wine, he accepts it with a nod and drinks deeply from it. Dark brown eyes look from face to face of those gathered, his own remaining mostly impassive. He drinks again and pushes off the railing. He walks over to his throne, eyes studying the currently empty one that Esera was sitting at. He claims his, with one hand holding his goblet, the other comes to rest on the arm of the empty throne.
Talen curls his hand around Calista's own, the Lycene man's thumb briefly touching the iridescite ring upon her hand. As the silks of the lady whip with the speed in which he leads her to the center of the ballroom floor, his words remain relatively quiet for his company. Steely eyes pass over the crowd and land upon Hadrian, watching the interaction between he and his liege lady. As Calista and he dance, they always seem to gravite back towards the Grand Duchess herself, duty dictating he be within some proximity.
"No no, I've fortified the gates with Princess Deva's army now that she's here in the province," Valencia informs Vercyn. "No battering rams, or we'll rain down flaming arrows upon your heads. Also, if she guesses incorrectly, you're down by three instead of just two," she tacks on, just making up rules now as she sips from her glass of wine.
"If you drink the whole thing, Kima, darling, I will be utterly cross and then pout. My pouting is even more dangerous than your blade, I wager." Isolde laughs and relinquishes the bottle, sipping at her own glass. "Though, if you're going to drink out of the bottle, you'll simply have to send for another to replace it for me."
Vercyn sets his empty wine glass aside and buries his face in his hands. Woe is Duke Vercyn.
And now it's Ophelia's turn to look at Gareth, her eyes widening as she leans much of her weight back upon Luca, "You have other bears?" Tapping upon her lower lip, she thoughtfully decides, "Well. If you have a whole... lot of bears, I suppose it would make sense that you wouldn't want another one. Where do you keep them?"
Valencia very chivalrously leans across Deva's lap to pour more wine into Vercyn's empty glass, her expresssion making it clear that she's relishing his distress.
Luca is a good rest for his sister. He must be, he ends up bearing her weight at some ponit during many parties. "A bear pit," he tells her matter-of-factly, but he's watching Deva.
"You have been to the menagerie right?" Gareth will mention offhandedly. "House Grayson has been importing charismatics for hundreds of years." Gareth will note rather dryly. "Not that we put them all on display.. or actually have living specimens of most creatures." Gareth notes, still watching the room in general.
"I give up," Deva glances between Vercyn and Valencia, hands thrown up in the air -after- the wine is poured so she doesn't knock anything over.
"Never literally shared a drink with someone before?" Kima asks, rolling onto one elbow then, in order to lean in close and say something in a hushed tone. Every now and again, she looks out over the crowd, pins Hadrian in place with her gaze, then flits her attention back to Isolde. "I shan't deprive you of your wine, a glass for me will do." She curtly waves over a server, takes a fresh glass, and returns the bottle to Isolde, untouched!
Monique gestures towards the spot vacated my Rohkir, "May I, Your Highness?" she asks, "And my sister seems much the same way, with the change. I cannot entirely blame either of you though." She says with that little smile forming as she watches Rohkir's progression. "So have you been to the city much yourself? Or is this as new to you as me?"
Vercyn keeps his eyes buried into his left hand as he still manages to sip wine with his right. He then removes his left hand to glower at Valencia, "When the wind isn't in my favor it damn well is wrong."
Isolde laughs and shakes her head a little. "Well, I wouldn't want to deprive you of the vintage. It is quite good. I only use glasses because it helps me keep -some- semblence of restraint. I think my sweet sister would be cross if I bankrupted us by drinking all the wine." She leans back in the couch, murmuring quietly.
"You're a cheater," Valencia laughs. "Stop cheating Duke Halfshav," she commands, pointing one neatly manicured finger in his direction. "Tell him to give up," she tells Deva. "Stubborn, all of you."
Hadrian does step away from Esera then, making his way towards Kima and Isolde's couch - slowly.
"Oh, I have definitely been to the Menagerie. Many times. There's approximately one hundred and twenty-three different kinds of animals in there and I wish to hunt down every single one until I have my own," Ophelia returns towards Gareth, her own lighter tones suddenly completely occupied with intent. Tilting her head back to look at the ceiling, she muses, "Which will happen soon, I hope. Or at least I want my own bear pit." She steals a look back towards Luca, which has her in turn watching Deva. Soon, she's inquiring innocently to Gareth again, "Do you happen to have... keys... to the Mengarie, Prince Gareth?"
Calista flinches when Talen touches her ring. It's quick but it happens. Her body is flush against Talen's as they move with graceful speed over the dance floor. Both her long dark hair and the licentious silks that covet her sinful design whip and lick the air as the man expertly twirls her without bumping into another dancing couple. There's suddenly another bit of laughter that causes her chest to heave. Fingers clutch onto her partner for fear of whirling out of their jaunty moves. Calista presses her cheek to Talen's, murmuring near his ear.
Freja scoots over and crosses her legs demurely at the knee. Her posture is well poised, even graceful for one that professes to lead a life only in armor. "Of course, Lady Monique. Here? I am new. Recently arrived. Same day as that Tourney Master Talen made an appearance in. Are you as new as I am?"
Esera whispers to Hadrian, and though her words are too soft to be overheard, her eyes are piercing. She spins to face Rohkir, and her gaze softens immediately. "I would be glad to," she says, taking the hand he offers her.
Luca tells Ophelia soothingly, "We'll get you a pit. I'll dig it myself." This is a blatant lie, but he means well. "Hey. When are we going hunting?" Now he looks at her.
Fiora has left the game.
"Who do you think feeds the badgers?" Gareth responds dryly, "I personally oversee the feeding of all the animals.. and insure they are all groomed and cared for." Gareth responds as his finger taps lightly on his knee then, finally turning his head to offer a look to Ophelia then, and then up to Luca. "You will be attending this.. hunt as well?"
"Uncle and Talen are supposed to figure it out," Ophelia explains towards Luca, "Princess Deva and Duchess Nadia are supposed to also come, I believe. You should ask him when he'll arrange it? I'm eager myself. Prince Gareth said he'd come, I think."
Kima's laugh is rich, full of amusement, slowly rolling to a stop in order for her to actually take a drink. She continues to talk with Isolde in a more personable tone. At one point gesturing with a nod of her head off in...some general direction.
Hadrian has left the Ballroom Floor.
Gradually, Ophelia's weight is removed from Luca and after Gareth mentions possessing all the keys to the Menagerie, she's threading her arms through his and leaning against him, "Did I ever tell you that you're near my very Bestest Friend in this Whole Wide World, Prince Gareth? And if you don't want a bear? No friend of mine should be required to have one."
"Give up. Give in. It's okay. Accept grace in defeat and drink your sorrows," Deva tells Vercyn, her tone low and serious as she gestures toward him with her nearly empty glass. There's a glimmer of amusement in her eyes as she looks to Valencia again. "Do we get to hear the answer, or shall we ever be tormented by our ignorance?"
Talen employs one palm to embrace Calista's hip, inviting himself on the body of the noblewoman to lead her into that dance, the speed in which they move unrivalled for at least a time. When others in their proximity pick up the cue to try and best them, Talen's amusement comes in the form of a slightly smug twisting of the lips. Tracing his spare arm up and then down, he guides Calista by coveting her spine and the small of her back. Their words are quiet but his attention is pricked as he hears himself on the lips of others. For now, however, he ignores them.
Rohkir takes Esera's hand and pulls her close, in a slow, guiding motion; it's practiced and flowing, even as his other eases up and toward the small of her back. He smiles though, a gentler, kind smile at odds with the usual lopsided grin, as he leads her along, taking some que from the music to be his point to begin. His lips move, voice low as the dance begins.
Luca takes the opportunity to slip off his couch and chase a couple of steps after a server he let escape. The guy with whiskey. Conveniently, he catches the man right by the couch where Vercyn sits.
Luca has left the Decadent Couch.
Gareth will just twist his lips into a slight frown as he has a new friend apparently, all over again with Ophelia. "Yes, as I was saying before.. a bear might be a bit much." Gareth mutters, though he has once more tried to return his focus to watching those about the room, dancing.. music, Voices, all quite interesting things to study really. "I may of been exagerating my access to the animals, Princess."
Hadrian intercepts a server carrying wine glasses towards where he and Esera were speaking, taking a presumably-safe-from-Velenosans glass and taking a long sip, ere he reaches Isolde and Kima's couch. He doesn't interrupt their conversation, but he does bring his hands together vertically, line them up with the space between Kima and Isolde, and then spreads his hands slowly apart, looking between his knight and the Mirrormask expectantly.
Monique has joined the The Impropriety Couch.
Isolde sips her wine as she speaks quietly to Kima, looking at Hadrian, and giving him a slight nod as he approaches, shifting just a touch, to make sure there is room on the couch. And then she stretches out her legs in the same spot, a slow, sly smirk crossing her lips. He -could- move her legs, or sit elsewhere on the couch.
"I'm next, please," Deva requests of the server assisting Luca, offering up her glass only after the Velenosian has been helped. "Annnd it looks like I have some catching up to do?" she adds, directing that entirely toward Luca with a cheeky grin. Something heard at her couch makes her slap a palm to her forehead. "I think both of those responses are appropriate! Just drink more, it will help," she tells Vercyn with a grimace. "Good one, Princess. I feel terribly dense right now."
Kima looks to Isolde; or more accurately, to Isolde's legs...and then she slowly turns her gaze up to Hadrian. She quirks a single brow, and in that the man could read any number of things, but for his sake, the gods have intervened to blast him with a flash of insight: he must move the legs.
(OOC) Luca says: Indecision. Are these open backed couches in the more historical style, or sofas?
(OOC) Talen says: One of every type.
(OOC) Esera says: The ones shrouded in curtains of sheer golden silk are not open back.
(OOC) Esera says: So take your pick.
(OOC) Isolde says: Magical ones that are whatever you pose them to be.
(OOC) Luca powerposes couches left and right.
(OOC) Esera says: Ugh stop violating my house
(OOC) Deva says: madness.
Monique smooths her skirts and moves to sit down at the couch, nodding her head slightly. "I am, Your Highness. I'm loving the city though, the parties and all the interesting people. You'll have to introduce me to some of your kin at some point." Her gaze drifts at the mention of Talen, "I did not get to see Master Talen in action, though he is quite the charming fellow, isn't he?"
After a few moments of sitting at his throne, he pats the arm of the Grand Duchess' throne. Niccolo rises then, he takes a moment to smooth out his silks and drains what's left of his goblet. He slowly steps down the stairs that lead from the balcony to the main area,
Smiling with absolute pleasure, Valencia leans in to brush Deva's cheek with an air kiss as she rises. "You're not dense at all," she promises. "You're absolutely brilliant to have indulged me so. If you'll excuse me though, I think I might enjoy some fresh air. The excitement of the evening is getting to me, I think." She looks to Vercyn mildly. "Will you walk me to the garden, Your Grace? I'm sure my guards would oblige if you'd rather remain, of course," she adds.
Luca stops the servant with a casually imperious toss of his chin and takes the bottle in his free hand. He sits next to Deva at the end of her couch, turned the opposite way with his stretched out behind the other members of the Duchy. "Of several kinds, it seems. Difficult riddle?" He refills Deva's glass and doesn't spare the liquor.
(OOC) Valencia totally said whatever the right address is there. I'm beat.
Luca has joined the The Immorality Couch.
Vercyn groans out loud and he nods at Luca, "An -impossible- riddle. Don't believe Princess Valencia for a moment. I believe she changed the answer at the last moment." He nonetheless offers an arm to Valencia, "Of course I'll show you out, your highness, even if I still am trying to decide if I hate you a little."
Vercyn has left the The Immorality Couch.
Hadrian's look at Isolde and Kima is one of suffering long-endured and resignation to the slings and arrows of Lycene women. His eyes rise, looking up slightly, but the Pantheon is not there to succor him, only the fabulous ceiling of the Velenosan ballroom. When he looks at the two once more, his lips set in a firm line. Passing Kima his wine glass, he reaches down to gently lift Isolde's slippered feet, turn them out away from his appointed cushion, and let them drop them unceremoniously a foot and a half to the floor. Then he claims what is his by right and force acquisition, shaking his head slightly and taking back his wine glass.
Hadrian has joined the The Scandal Couch.
Valencia has left the The Immorality Couch.
Luca warns Vercyn, "Never hate a woman a little. She will be giving it her all."
Vercyn gestures towards Luca, "Sound advice."
This particular dance calls for a dramatic whirl of the woman's hand at a specific interval. Calista remembers the cue and when the music hits a sharp note, her slender arm releases Talen's shoulder, and twirls above their heads as they move in an opposite rotation. It's supposed to be done with a swath of silk, but obviously Calista doesn't have a spare piece in hand. She arches her back and finishes the turn before clinging to Talen once more, close to him as the dance calls.
"Enjoy the rest of your evening," Deva tells Valencia with a dimpled grin, giving a playful wiggle of her fingers as the other Redrain moves to take her leave. "Difficult when you're either not sober enough or drunk enough to puzzle it through, in my opinion." With a smirk for Vercyn, she waves as the pair leave the couch. "You're so right," she laughs a little at Luca, accepting the refill with a grateful bob of her head. She immediately resumes drinking.
(OOC) Calista wants to stab her pose. That was awful. My apologies.
"Not my word choice." Freja comments, draining the last bit of wine from her glass. "You are welcome to stopy by sometime. We're a colorful, strong and spirited bunch. We do all fiercely, our drinking no exception." She laughs brightly, a rare smile curling her lips and brightening her features consideraly.
to stop by sometime*
Swatting at Luca playfully, Valencia insists to Vercyn, "Love simply isn't a war cry. It isn't! Even on his worst days, Angus howled at anything but me - I'd have been on the first thing with oars back to Lenosia," she claims. "Same to you, Princess Deva. Show these southerners how they do it in the North," she laughs. "Shall we?" she asks Vercyn, taking his arm lightly.
Vercyn growls, "It -can- be. You can holler it! Loudly! And it's often not true. I tell you, it's such the answer." He's still arguing as he leads Valencia out.
Vercyn is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall.
Valencia is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Ballroom, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall.
Luca dodges the swat by leaning smoothly to his right. "What? My father always told me that. He was full of good advice."
Esera follows Rohkir's lead, in this dance of his choosing. If she looked uncertain before, she looks happy now -- there is far more spirit in her step and in her eyes. She speaks low, as they dance. Lycenes must only dance to gossip.
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Niccolo before departing.
While music manipulates Talen and Calista accordingly, the dance eventually comes to an end. With the flutter of silk and firm press of a Lycene noblewoman to the common Sword's form, his words are hushed and lengthy by an ear. Steps are taken, guiding them around in mild rhythm while they speak, not quite fully in the flow of music but maintaing some semblance of motion. A hand is lifted to deftly push away a stray lock of the woman's hair, demanding his words be unimpeded as they're uttered.
Luca watches Deva drink. It's a moment before it occurs to him he should be making conversation. "What do you like to hunt?" He asks Deva, searching out Niccolo across the floor and trying to get the man's attention so he can gesture a vague invitation. He is holding a whiskey bottle, if that entices.
Once Niccolo reaches the floor, he approaches one of the tables holding the drinks. He chooses a bottle of Lenosian red, studying it and then nods approvingly. He gestures for one of the servants, and hands over the bottle, whispering. The servant nods to the duke, and off he goes with that bottle. Looking up, he catches Luca's gesture and steps over toward the man and his company.
Deva shifts to tuck her legs up underneath her on the couch, sitting in a cross-legged manner that would frustrate any etiquette instructor. "Fathers always have weird advice. Mine mostly told me to not break things, and something about words being sharper than weapons." Both shoulders rise in a casual shrug, before she holds out her glass toward Luca for another refill. "Wolves. Bears. Elk. I think it would be easier to say what I don't like to hunt, and that would be rabbits."
Niccolo has left the Grand Duchess Throne.
"That would be wonderful." Monique says to Freja, gaze drifting towards the dance floor, a soft little hmmn, "Why don't we do that soon, a get together in a more casual sitting. Your cousin is quite a dancer isn't he? I hadn't suspected. I should learn to dance the style of the courts a bit better myself. It feels so strange sitting here on the sidelines, doesn't it?"
Rohkir seems terribly amused as he continues his dance with the Grand Duchess, keeping her close and whispering. The tall man in darker violet silk guides the shimmering, brightly dressed woman along the dance floor at a sedate pace, his pace, really. When a particular motion, a step in, draws him in closer, his lips move near soundlessly again.
Luca smiles at Niccolo as he approaches. "Your Grace! I have it on good authority that was a very romantic speech." He is not yet so drunk that he can't tip the bottle against Deva's glass and refill it without looking away from his uncle. "Would you like some northerner liquor before Deva and I drink it all?" He gives the Redrain in question a sidelong glance, finally. "Rabbits. Why not rabbits?"
Calista nods at whatever Talen mentions to her in hushed tones. She let's the Sword of Lenosia lead her to their next destination. A hint of blush caresses her cheeks and her fingers follow the errant curls he's tucked away as if securing them in place. "Thank you for that spritely dance, Master Talen. I should have know you are so graceful and elegant. It's been quite some time since I've danced like that. I've missed it dearly."
"Because they're annoyingly small, run too fast for my arrow to hit, and it doesn't really -mean- anything if you can hunt a rabbit. Who cares about that? Who brags about that?" Deva scoffs. "Do you like hunting them? What's your favorite? If you have one." Both hands wrap around her drink, and her lips widen into a broad smile. "Thaaaanks," she adds for Luca. With quite a bit to drink in a short amount of time, her face is slightly flushed and she appears thoroughly relaxed. "Good evening, your grace," she nods at Niccolo as he nears. "We may honestly drink it all, soooo, help yourself while you can!"
Calista has left the Ballroom Floor.
When Talen steps away from the ballroom dance floor, a lesser-hued gunmetal gaze flows over toward Esera and her company, Calista's words brushing his conciousness but not immediately replied to. Rohkir is studied for a time and then, satisfied whom she is with, the Sword of Lenosia continues his departure from the Archduchess. "Truly, I have danced more in Arx in the last month than I have in a long, long time," is admitted, his hand sliding from her hip to catch her arm so he may guide her to a couch. A brief detour for wine is taken, however.
Talen has left the Ballroom Floor.
Talen has joined the The Immorality Couch.
Talen has left the The Immorality Couch.
Talen has joined the The Misconduct Couch.
Calista has joined the The Misconduct Couch.
Niccolo has joined the The Immorality Couch.
"Was it?" Niccolo asks Luca with a tinge of amusement in his expression. He inclines his head to Deva, "Your highness," he greets her, before he turns to the younger Velenosa man. "If it was so romantic, why aren't you out there dancing again?" He says, and considers. "I suppose I can't blame you, since from what I know of that liquor it can be quite enticing." A pause. "I'll pass for now, though, thank you." Seeing Calista and Talen leave the dance floor, he dips his head in Calista's direction, then repeats the gesture for Talen. He does claim a place at the couch shared by Deva and Luca, however.
Calista follows Talen towards the couches where she is happy to find a moment of respite from all that exuberant dancing. As they pass Niccolo, Deva, and Luca, the young Fidante graciously bows her head to them in kind but does not interrupt their conversation. She claims a corner of the couch, comfortably curling her legs beneath her and perking up when a server comes around with more wine.
(OOC) Esera says: We are going on 4 hours of the event, so I'm going to close down the @cal before I forget. No need for anyone to leave or stop the RP, but perhaps the crowds are overall starting to dwindle.
Ophelia seems to possess a natural habit for leaning, though at least for Gareth it probably wouldn't seem like one with licentious intent. Her ever-present bubbliness has tapered to a comfortable consideration with the words passed between the two of them and she'd only found herself invasively trying to play with his scars once so far. Tilting her head towards the man, she lowers her voice again.
Flower petals are caught up in the skirts of Esera's gown as she dances, a contrast to the startling white of her silks. She is not, as a rule, a woman who follows -- but in this dance, she does follow, and she does so with grace.

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