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Moonlight Social

Join House Velenosa for dancing and intrigue and fine Lenosian wine beneath the moon and the stars. All are invited to attend, no matter their place in society, no matter their finery, or lack thereof -- after all, the shadows of night hide many things, and keep many secrets.


July 6, 2016, 8:30 p.m.

Hosted By



Isolde Harlan Vercyn(RIP) Luca(RIP) Bliss Calista Kieran Niccolo(RIP) Nadia(RIP) Valencia Donella Jaenelle Hadrian Gustave Talen Margot(RIP) Ophelia Rohkir(RIP) Deva



Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds

Largesse Level


Comments and Log


Say what you will about the Lyceum, we know how to throw a party - and despite our alleged subtlety, we're remarkably good at showing each other where we stand in each other's eyes.

Or _are_ we?!

I know you know I know you know, but sometimes it's fun to pretend we don't. You know?


There's nothing quite like southern wine, and southern company. Add some of my favorite Northland family members to the mix, and the party was exactly what I needed. Beautiful, relaxing, and in some moments absolutely hilarious. The highlights, as I recall them:
1. Prince Luca offering his arm to Talen. It was so ridiculously gallant. Talen was a class-act in getting around it.
2. Princess Ophelia murdering the avian intruders in the garden maze. I'd worry if she wasn't such a sweetheart.
3. Duke Vercyn establishing the Northern duchy of Sideline. I wonder if we'll lay down claim upon the benches of future gatherings?

All in all, it was a lovely night with beautiful lanterns, people, and music, a true testament to Lycene sensibilities.


    A few days after the friendly duel with Sir Ralston, I caught wind of another party. Open to the public this time! Unfortunately, I heard about it a bit late and arrived just in time for a single dance before things started to disperse. A Moonlight Social, set outdoors and lit by moon and lanterns. And just moon for part of it. The dance was with Talen Artiglio, if I recall correctly. He was suitably impressed by my skill, and I would later similarly impress him with my blade a few days after. Once more, Princess Isolde expressed her desire to do business, as well.


A hundred lanterns lit the grounds of House Velenosa. Beneath the night sky, those lanterns shone like stars. They shone upon servants, as they poured glass after glass of wine. They shone upon dancers, as they spun, in glittering turns, around the pool. Oh, they shone bright ... until they went out. All those lights, all at once -- snuffed in an instant. In the darkness they left behind, you could see the stars, real stars, bright points of light above us. I have always loved the stars. I could watch them forever. But the servants returned with more lanterns -- there is no forever.

Nadia arrives.
Rohkir arrives.
"Be well, MIstress MIrari. I look forward to seeing you again soon!" Isolde wiggles her fingers, before wandering back to where the group has begoun to gather.
Mirari has left the game.
Kieran arrives.
Jaenelle comes from inside the estate, moving towards Isolde and the departing Mirari, giving the latter a smile as she passes. To Isolde, she offers a warmer version of that smile, "it is a lovely night for festivities, I do look forward to seeing everyone. I am sorry I missed your wine tasting."
The grounds of House Velenosa can be maze-like under the best of circumstances. At night, the paths beneath the trees are darker, and quieter; at night, those winding paths disappear into shadow. This night, though, the moon shines bright overhead. A thousand lanterns have been lit to illuminate the courtyard and the paths all around it. Still, it is only a soft light, a dull haze of fire that flickers in the evening breeze. Instruments play in the background, and servants come and go, with platters of food and wine.
Vercyn arrives.
Deva arrives.
Rohkir wanders in behind Nadia, slowing immediately. He reaches up, and grasps and pulls off his barbute and places it under arm. Only a low rumble, a quiet, "Mmmm." offers his thoughts.
Ophelia arrives.
Ophelia is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Lyceum Gate.
Esera stands near the tall archway that leads into the courtyard, to greet her guests as they arrive. In the moonlight, the silk of her gown and the scales in her hair all but glimmer.
Nadia traverses the trellised pathways winding their way up to the Velenosan estate in a flutter of dusk-hued silks and blackened gold jewelry, her lips rounded into a subtle moue of fascination at the dusky purple petals of a wisteria hanging overhead. Gracefully, she plucks it from its vine and inhales it scent delicately, her pale eyes flickering back to Rohkir with a bemused twist of her mouth when the echo of his heavy thudding footsteps ceases, "What's wrong, Your Highness? To floofy for your tastes?" she jests in good humor.
Out of the estate steps Niccolo, with hands clasped behind his back. The man is dressed in elegant, but somewhat simple clothes as far as Lycene fashion goes. Noticing the small gathering already present, he makes his way in the direction of his family. The man's dark brown eyes settle on a messenger boy nearby, as he seems to consider. "Good evening, my dears," he does add in greeting to Isolde and Jaenelle, eyes lingering on Isolde as he offers a faint smile to her. "Your Grace," he in turn makes his way to greet Esera, his tone respectful.
"Think nothing of it, darling." Isolde greets Jaenelle with a kiss to the cheek. "It was a modest, but successful affair, if I do say so myself." She laughs warmly. "Even if I practically ended through Princes of the realm. Poor things. They'll have to grow used to use somehow, no?" She guids Jaenelle over to greet Esera, giving her sister a hug. "This is a lovely evening for this, darling. Let me know if I can help." SHe also goes to kiss Niccolo's cheek and smile brilliantly at him. "Papa. You seem in decent spirits. How are you?"
Rohkir drags his fingers through his hair, brushing the red-blond back over head. "I have many words for it. Floofy was not among them." Something partway between a grimace and a frown mars his lips for a moment before he's offering a broad shouldered shrug. "A different sort of social gathering than I am used to, I suppose."
Vercyn walks confidently on the grounds with a warm smile tugging at the corner of his lips while escorting Princess Deva by the arm. "The lanterns are thoughtful, and pardon the Velenosa of any blame if I trip and break my neck in their gardens." He advises Deva with a smile. He walks up to the Velenosan nobility and bows low to Esera, "Archduchess Esera Velenosa, it's an honor to finally meet you. I am Duke Vercyn Halfshav, and I imagine you already know her highness Princess Deva Redrain, scion of House Redrain, and most spirited individual in the Northlands." He smiles in turn at the other Velenosa nobles to Isolde, Jaenelle and Niccolo and inclines his head, "Your highnesses, thank you for having us." He then nods his head briefly in greeting at the other Redrains.
Kieran is along for the ride with Nadia and Rohkir. He wears dark leather and very stylish black, ermine fur on the edges of his clothing. "Another event over here. I should probably rent a room at the Hundred Cities and just stay here if I'm going to be a frequent visitor. The wine is pretty good, so there is that going for it." He approaches Esera and gives a bow to the woman, "Good evening, Arcduchess Esera Velanosa. I am Prince Kieran Redrain, Brother of the most spirited individual in the Northands." He grins and takes a step to the side as others introduce theselves.
Valencia arrives.
Turning to her father-in-law, Jaenelle offers the man a polite dip of her head, not going as far to kiss his cheek, "good evening." She turns and laughs softly at Isolde's words, "please try not to harm any Princes. I don't think people would appreciate that. Unless they do, who knows anymore." As she is lead towards Esera, she gives the woman another bright smile, "Your Grace, they have done a beautiful job at decorating the grounds. It looks absolutely stunning and mysterious." She turns to look towards Vercyn when he approaches, and beams towards the man though lets Esera speak, her party and all!
"You're too kind, Duke," Deva tells the Halfshav on her arm in a dry tone of voice, but the small smile threatening to curl her lips upward betrays her. "I didn't realize I'd earned that title already." Her gown is a brilliant green, lined with gold edging. Her hair, unfortunately, is not nearly as well-done. It falls in loose waves down her back, and-- that's it, no fancy up-do or stylish curls. "Archduchess, thank you for having us," she echoes and bows her head to the hostess, smile widening in a manner that is most mischievous. With a wink for Kieran, she steps aside with Vercyn as others filter in.
Nadia bows her head. "We're long overdue for one, I think," she agrees with a tinkling laugh. "I imagine once things have settled, you and Fergus will be the first ones clamoring for it." Her fingers flex almost restlessly around the stem of the wisteria, the blossom swaying gently with the exuberant flick of her wrist. "Oh, look, Prince Kieran's beat us to greeting the Archduchess. We should go say hello," the duchess suggests to Rohkir, already trailing after Kieran.
Talen arrives.
Luca arrives.
Ophelia arrives.
"My princess," Niccolo allows a smile for Isolde after she kisses his cheek. "I'm in quite decent spirits," he notes, his hand coming up to squeeze his daughter's shoulder, before he leans in and returns the kiss to her cheek. He's about to say something else, when Vercyn catches his attention. "My lord, well met. Thank you for coming," he offers with a dip of his head. Jaenelle's response garners a return incline of his head.
Luca walks in with his sister attached to his arm and a display of intensely slouchy posture. It's something of a miracle he's upright, and no one cna be sure that Ophelia isn't supporting him.
Rohkir wanders along, apparently quite content to trail behind Nadia, even for a slightly absent gaze taking in his surroundings, over toward the Grand Duchess. Of the Redrains, he clearly favors maintaining the back of the party, as it were. "Aye, aye. Niceties and all. I remember."
Hadrian arrives.
"Princess Esera!" Esera greets Deva, somewhat improbably, but with a laugh that is warm as Deva's smile is mischievous. There are many greetings, all at once, and she answers them with a smile here, a bow of her head there. "I am so glad to see you all here, on such a perfect night," she says. "There's food and wine and music, as long as you all wish it. After enough glasses of Lenosian wine, you may find the pool inviting, as well. Or the shadows."
"No-no. We can't do that. I want to do that, but we can't do that." Ophelia's whispers cross Luca's shoulder, furtive and riddled with mirth. "And I need all sorts of rewards. What sort of rewards will you give? You will come with us on our own trip out hunting, won't you?" Her bright eyes partake of the surroundings, before a sharper elbow is nudged against her sibling's side, "Let's go give greetings, steal wine and then get lost within the maze. Unless that's also too childish?"
"It's a pleasure to meet all of you." Isolde smiles brightly behind her mirrored mask. She motions for a servant to start passing out drinks, before looking over the growing crowd. She tilts her head, curious at what Niccolo might have said, and loops her arm with his lightly. A bit of the old, shy girl comes through with how little she actually talks, but she stands confidently, sharp eyes observant. SHe grins at Kieran and waves to him. "Welcome back, Prince Kieran. No choking this evening, hm?"
Kieran steps over to where Vercyn and Deva move and gives a smile to Deva, "I haven't seen you since the bonfire. It's good to see you about." He gives his sister a wink, before leaning in to whisper something to her. That done, he goes to find where the refreshments are. "Where's the golden whiskey Princess Isolde got me hooked on...?"
Luca shrugs. He is an amiable layabout, at least. "Hunting? Sure, whatever you want, Phil." He bends easily with the elbow, then snaps back into position. "Greetings, and wine, and maybe haircuts." He's ready to play big brother, and actually stands up straight enough to cut through milling people so he can guide Ophelia to a tray of glasses, circulating atop the hand of a serving girl.
Vercyn looks a little confused by Esera greeting Deva by her own name and glances between the two, "I feel I'm missing a story, if her grace or your highness would like to inform me." He takes a glass of wine thankfully and he waves to Rohkir, "Your highness, good to see you about in public. It's been quite some time, and I always regretted hearing what you went through. I hope you are doing much better these days, even with the current crisis about us." With another smile at Deva and Esera, Vercyn moves to a bench, "As the oldest man here, I think I'll be the first to claim a seat. I feel justified."
Winding her way through the garden, Valencia arrives at the party just late enough to possibly be fashionable without missing the stream of guests greeting the hosting family it would seem. Liberating a glass of white wine from one of the passing servers, she takes a cue from Luca, linking her arm into Ophelia's free one. "I'll come with," she invites herself with a dimpled smile. "For the greetings," she clarifies. "No getting lost in the maze, not until we talk a server out of an entire bottle of wine, at least. It's good to see you, Prince Luca. It's been an age, you look...well anyway, the wine looks good," she recovers as they enter the party properly.
Talen strides out of the estate somewhat belatedly, not far in front of Luca and Ophelia, truth be told. As the Sword of Lenosia follows the path lit by moonlight and laternglow, his steely pale grey-blue eyes wash over the crowd of guests. One of the nearest servants are gravitated towards, a glass of wine plucked from the platter with one hand while the other idly sits on the pommel of his sword. "Prince Luca, how the princess' energy fails to seep into your bones is a constant cause of confusion to me," is the bold greeting of Talen. "I wasn't even aware you'd come this far north, in all honesty. I am glad you could. The family needs to be together in a time like this."
Vercyn has joined the benches by the fountain.
Jaenelle turns to look towards Kieran, calling out as he moves away, clearly interested in whatever happened. "Prince Kieran, I think I hear a story somewhere in that? Choking? Did you take more than you could fit?" she asks, head tilting as she studies the man, eyebrows arching in question. She only shifts her attention away from the man as more people approach the greeting line, and she can't help but lift her head backwards at the sight of Rohkir's tall frame.
"Well, now we're going to need someone to pour wine into our mouths," Ophelia cheerfully sighs, her Valencia-connected arm squeezed as she leans in towards the Princess to impart an air-kiss in hover beside her cheek, "Can we add that to the list of things which need to be done?" Adoring eyes ascend the form of her brother with a hint of a grin, before she looks haplessly towards the glasses and wonders, "Can we get them to personally follow us for a never-ending arrangement? Talen, will you link arms too, or is a chain of four unseemly?"
Rohkir shifts a glance over his shoulder, pale gaze narrowed briefly, before he's all eyes forward again. Patient, he seems utterly uninclined to jump into the gaggle of people all greeting at once.
Nadia seems to be several steps ahead of Valencia, as she's craftily gotten a servant to do away with a bottle of white wine whilst awaiting her time to greet Esera with Rohkir in tow. She angles a wicked smile back at the begrudging Redrain prince, promising, "One of my men have something more to your liking, Your Highness. Just in case," she trails off in a pointed sing-song, turning her eyes up to the Grand Duchess when the crowds around her thin. "Your Grace, the idea to host a party in the moonlight was a wonderful idea. The lanterns give the grounds a sort of ethereal glow. Gorgeous, really," she gives her praises with genuine appreciation of the landscaping.
Holding a finger to her lips, Deva parts with such a sly, knowing smile for Esera when greeted as such. "You're looking lovely, Princess Deva," she coos, so strangely and so unlike her, before making room for all the other well-wishers. As Kieran whispers, she bobs her head a little, the expression on her face faltering slightly. No words are murmured in return, as she slips away to claim a seat next to Vercyn on a bench. "I'd be happy to tell it to you sometime, Duke," she promises in a not-so solemn tone. "The short version is that the bonds of mistaken identity are unbreakable."
Luca responds to Valencia's clever recovery with an eloquent: "Huh?" He smiles when he sees who it is, fleeting and friendly. "Thank the gods it's you, you can find someone to pour wine in Phil's mouth." He listens. He adds things to the list. Then he tries to find someone to give the list to. He looks at Talen, after a beat. "Oh, right, hey man." Talen gets an up-nod and a completely casual offer of his arm.
Kieran looks over at Isolde and blinks, "Choking? Never!" He eyes the refreshments table. "But I don't see any of your spreadable butter. Do you have it hidden somewhere, Princess Isolde? I was so hoping to try a bit of it." His attention turns then to Jaenelle, "Witty banter between Her Highness and a courtesan champion resulted in my having a difficult time tasting the wine that was on offer at the most recent event."
Niccolo lets Isolde claim his arm, tilting his head as he catches her look. "I was agreeing with you. Being around family is enough to lift a man's spirits," he says, patting her arm that is linked with his. A combination of dips of his head and polites smiles that are barely there are offered to greet the number of people that arrive. Dark brown eyes regard the guests with interest and curiosity.
"I should lightly mingle and make sure no ne'er do wells are present first," Talen says in reply to Ophelia's offer, "but I will promise to come find you if there's been no sight nor sound in the next half hour." With a brief bow for Valencia as she is ever so close, he greets her with a pleasant, "Your highness, good evening." Luca's extension of his arm is responded to with a more seemly brace and shake, hand to forearm. "Enjoy yourselves, won't you?" he urges the trio, stepping aside then and gesturing grandoisly forward to the path they are to take.
Esera laughs at Deva -- at her strange coo of greeting -- and it is a fiery laugh indeed. She turns on heel to face Nadia, to answer her with a flash of a smile. "Thank you," she says. "My mother told me, when I was much younger, that the grounds held many secrets. At night the number of secrets they hold seems ... unimaginable. I hope you'll explore."
Hadrian's boots tap along the path. The tall and slim man in mixed red and black silks makes his way into the line approaching their host family. He nods to Talen with a small smile and gives Valencia a two-fingered wave and a wink before he slips to the front, where he presents a proper bow of a few degrees before Esera. "Your grace, you have outdone yourself. The light makes it all seem a particularly-vivid dream." He slips down the line, to where he can nod to Duke Niccolo. "It does seem we men are outnumbered. We will have to stick together." He grins, and the expression lights up his green eyes.
"Ah, yes, anyone might have a difficult time focusing on anything when Princess Isolde and I assume Mistress Mirari are in the same room, they are both quite lovely and have the most interesting stories to share" Jaenelle tells Kieran, grinning ever so slightly but able to hide the reaction as a well placed server offers her a glass of wine and the smile is hid behind the rim of the glass as she sips.
Vercyn bows his head towards Valencia, "Good evening, your highness, I can but hope that the wine here helpfully escorts you to a welcome place far from the dreaded shores of sobriety, a place I intend to journey to shortly." He watches Esera and Deva's interplay, "Already one then, I fear I may not yet uncover the secret of mistaken identity tonight. Some day then."
"Oh, good. I think it would be very difficult to get through the gardens when our trio turned into four with a trailing of servers behind us. And if someone suggested synchronized bowing and curtseying, I would simply die." Laughter bubbles at Ophelia's lips, expression blissful when she tries to manipulate, tug, and half-way, arm-linked as she is, towards Niccolo, Isolde and somewhere nearer Esera. She does attempt to curtsey, without breaking arms, beaming with dimples that break into a grin as she half-tries to overwhelm Hadrian's words. "It's better than a dream, your Grace. If Jayus strikes inspiration, I will show you that painting instead and all will be right for a time."
Deva has joined the benches by the fountain.
Isolde laughs to Kieran and she motions to the refreshments table. "Over there, darling. It's delightful on the rolls freshly baked." She winks at him and lifts a brow as Hadrian approaches Niccolo, whose arm she's holding. "Don't you dare try and steal Papa from me, you rogue." She grins brightly at him. "I am glad you were able to attend, Duke Malvici." She waves as Ophelia and Luca approach as well. "Cousins. It's so good to see you out and about. How are you doing, both of you?"
Nadia returns Esera's smile with an easy one of her own. "I most certainly intend to," she promises to the Grand Duchess, before looking curiously to Niccolo and Isolde. "I don't believe I've had the pleasure of formally making your family's acquaintance. I believe that's Princess Isolde and, Duke... Niccolo?" The names come to the duchess after a moment's pause, and a pouring of more wine into her glass.
Luca gets shook; seems unruffled by it. Once his sister has herded him towards the woman of the hour, he snatches up a cup of wine, threading his arm through Ophelia's grasp until he's all but ramming it into her fingers in the hopes she'll take it and free him. "Your Grace," he greets Esera, and Niccolo, expression serious despite his tug of war with the princess. "Your Highnesses." Two strokes, infinite kills. He looks vaguely pleased with himself, and it means a smile for Isolde.
"I promise to tell the entire tale soon," Deva tells Vercyn with a wag of her finger. The same hand scoops up a glass of wine as a server pauses by the bench in such a thoughtful manner. "Thank you," she bids, and the glass moves to her lips immediately before suddenly pulling it back. "To welcoming the warmth of intoxication," she toasts the Halfshav, raising her drink in his direction before drinking for real this time.
Jaenelle has left the game.
Jaenelle has entered the game.
Mirari has entered the game.
Kieran isn't letting Isolde off of the hook, "Ahhh! I see! So I should spread the butter on the buns then. Are they warm and firm buns?" Jaenelle earns his attention again and he smiles at the noblewoman as he collects a glass of wine. "Not Mirari. No, her name was bliss, and she is a champion - a swordfighter. If she is as skilled with her weapon as she is with a turn of phrase, then I hope to never be on the receiving end of her blade. And how are you this evening, Princess Jaenelle?"
Talen catches sight of someone looking in his direction and turns his gaze sharply that way, spotting Hadrian as a result. A dip of his head is given from across the grounds, the Artiglio man yet to make his roundabout way toward Esera and her orbiting crowd. Along his passage he passes Nadia and her company, the incredibly tall Rohkir. With a sweeping look over the man and ultimately the huge greatsword attached to him, there's a thoughtful remark, "Your grace," he begins to Nadia, "good day to you. Is this rather imposing fellow your family, by chance?" he asks, bowing for the Redrain prince in the mean time, remaining as polite as he can without addressing the man due to unfamiliarity.
"My father, Duke Niccolo," Esera answers Nadia. "My sister, Princess Isolde." Hadrian catches her interest, and she smiles to him. "Would you dream of inviting a lady to dance?" she asks. "In this light, a dance would be a beautiful thing to see." She arches a brow at Luca and Ophelia, in an expression of 'what is this, what is going on'. Wordless, but pointed. "...And my cousins, Prince Luca and Princess Ophelia, who are the most gracious and wonderful people you will ever meet," she adds, for Nadia's benefit.
The offering of wine produces a suitable distraction for Luca to worm his way free from Ophelia's anchoring hold after only a tiny bit of subdued chaos, with a chipper intonation, "Yay. My favorite vintage. How did you know?" Exhibiting a dimpled smile towards Nadia and Isolde, she gracefully dips into another curtsey, this one less restrained from entwined arms, asking the latter, "Your Highness, it's been so-so wonderful, but you're ever so stunning. ... But butter on buns? Wouldn't that be delicious paired with Alarissa's honey?" She pauses, looking to Valencia with a small furrow in her brow, "Or was it syrup?"
Gustave arrives.
Rohkir allows his gaze to settle firmly on the back of Hadrian's head, lips thinning. An ever so gentle tilt of his head and raise of a blondish brow works its way into his expression and demeanor, before it gets smothered. Finally, he offers a polite bow of his own, mindful of his armor and equipment. "Your Grace." Simplicity. "As I've laid eyes upon you, I dare suggest a shame I've not visited a party of yours sooner. Prince Rohkir..." He pauses, glancing down at his outfit, before cracking something of a lopsided smile. "...of Redrain, naturally." His gaze flits to the paths.
At the sound of Talen's voice, Nadia turns her head to lend him a bright smile. "Sword," she greets affably in kind, before she bursts into laughter at his question. "Oh, you do me a great honor to think him a familial relation to me. This is His Highness, Prince Rohkir Redrain," she makes the introductions smoothly, gesturing to Rohkir then Talen with an elegant swirl of her westeria. "Your Highness, Talen Artiglio. Sword of Velenosa."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, my lady" Niccolo disengages from Isolde's arm, to step toward Nadia when Esera introduces him. The dark brown eyes of the man study Nadia, just as he offers a gentlemanly bow to her. "And of course, thank you for joining us here tonight," he says to the duchess. The mans' gaze floats to the other members of his family, before they return to the woman just introduced to him.
Margot arrives.
"I have not had the pleasure of meeting Bliss, though I am sure she is worthy of every praise spoken of her" Jaenelle says with a nod of her head as she departs from the rest of the Velenosa household as they begin to move throughout the party now and away from the place of greeting. With her wine in tow, she finds an almost peaceful shadow to observe as people begin dancing and others are speaking of it.
"That's how I play this game, in all honesty. I guess and pray for sweet mercy that I haven't offended," Talen replies in ease, nodding to Nadia as he learns of the truth. Regarding Rohkir a few more minutes, he confesses directly to the prince, "I should like to see you swing that thing someday and I would pay good money to see it. Perhaps if we employ enough wine in your service tonight, I might convince you to smash a few of those lanterns down the way?" A glance over his shoulder is given, as if he's checking nobody heard him say that, but he doesn't look terribly concerned despite that. "An honour to meet you, your highness," he says to the tall Redrain then, before looking back to Nadia. "Welcome to the Velenosa estate, I expect we shall provide you hospitality that is second to none."
The most gracious and wonderful? Luca doesn't wince, but it is a near thing. On his better behavior, he bows swiftly from the waist. "Lady Nadia, was it? Good to meet you." Standing from it, he steps twice backward before turning to clear space in front of Esera and find his own drink.
Isolde laughs brightly at Kieran's antics and she motions toward the food again. "You'll have to see to find out, Prince of Redrain." She releases Niccolo's arm, folding her hands in front of her as she looks over the crowd once more.
Margot arrives, perhaps fashionably late, perhaps not, but late none the less. She slips in quiet and unobtrusive, her hands folded together, her blue eyes taking in everyone and every thing as she wanders at the periphery of the crowd of nobles.
"You're a gods-send," Valencia tells Nadia, extending her glass toward the servant with the bottle of white gold. Topped-off, she takes a sip even as the linked-trio moves forward. "Not to worry," she assures Luca when his gallant offer is side-stepped by Talen. "We'll find someone pretty for the other arm yet." When they reach Esera and company, Valencia inclines her head in greeting. "The gardens are lovely of course - but treacherous at night. I nearly broke my ankle coming in," she claims, showing off said ankle as if in proof, though there's nothing there to see, naturally. Greetings done, she gives Ophelia's arm a little squeeze before disengaging. "Duke Halfshav," she greets Vercyn, espying him on the bench. "You haven't resigned yourself to the sidelines already, have you?" she asks.
Esera regards Rohkir, interest bright in her eyes. She looks at him -- indeed, looks up at him -- through dark lashes. "Will you dance with me?" she asks. She offers her hand to him, palm upturned, fingers outstretched. "I would wish nothing more, all night."
(OOC) Mirari says: Im really sorry work wont let go of me
Mirari has left the game.
Fortunately, if it is one thing that Gustave doesknow, its mazes. Of men, of rolling hills, of crevases. Gustave walks in amongst the glittering throng sans his daughter, who has it seems been sent to her room. No doubt he will endure the fire and fury of denying her coming out in society....though in his selfish paternal heart he hopes for many years yet. Lacking the fashions of the day he simply settles for buffing the dents out of his armor, an extra fancy tassel off the tip of his two handed blade that remains sheathed on his back. Mostly he tries not to block out peoples lantern light, quickly scouting out sustenance and alcohol before he braves the sturm and drang of nobility. Nadia and Jaenelle receive nods of recognition and acknowlegement, as he mentally tries to put faces to names and hopefully doesn't make any striking Lycean fuaxu pas....and its probably best to have another cup of wine on standby, just in case.
Esera glances edgewise at Luca, to confirm that he's being gracious and wonderful. She looks momentarily satisfied.
Nadia takes a brief sip of her wine, wry amusement twisting her lips as she watches Rohkir aside. When Niccolo steps forward, the duchess delves into a curtsey with a flourish of her silken skirts. "The pleasure is truly mine, my Lord. It's a startling sort of beauty, your estates. The sort of scene my father regaled me and my younger siblings with when were much younger. He fancied himself to be a true romantic at heart," she reminisces to Niccolo, before Valencia's words earns a bright laugh. "I've a few other treats tucked away, for later, if you're not yet lost in the maze, Your Highness," she confides in a staged whisper, eyes twinkling with mirth.
"I would not steal the good Duke," Hadrian reassures Isolde. "Not when you defend him so well yourself." With another polite tilt of his head, he returns to Esera at her words. "I dare far higher, your grace." With a mischievous smile, he offers a hand to Esera. "Will you grant me the honor of a dance? It is your party; perhaps they await your lead."
Hadrian has left the game.
Hadrian has entered the game.
"Lovely Duchess Nadia!" Ophelia steps forward in a flutter of skirts as if to land a guileless air-kiss beside Nadia's cheek. "You look stunning this evening." She looks up towards the man beside her with widened eyes at the interaction between Esera and him and then retreats back towards her brother intentionally to claim his arm once more. "You are so lucky. I was just about to ask that enormous Prince if he wanted to fight you," she cheerfully imparts towards Luca, sipping repeatedly from her wine, "Duchess Nadia is lovely. I told her all about the birds and Lady Glenda's cat and the deer and she took it all with stride. You must get to know her better."
Merriment twinkles somewhere in those eyes as Rohkir glances sidelong at Nadia, offering an apologetic quirk of his lips. "You'll forgive me, yes?" He doens't wait for answer, tugging at his gloves and placing them over shoulder before reaching out to take Esera's hand. At his words, Rohkir levels his gaze again on Hadrian, as if considering something. Then he's all bright smiles again for Esera. "Who am I to deny?" A silly statement, if there ever was one.
Vercyn murmured something to Deva before he turns with a smile to inform Valencia, "I have hardly -resigned- myself to the the sidelines. I'm the Duke of the Sidelines, ruling over the sidelines with a benevolence that stands the entire Compact in good stead, as I make certain that not a single drop of wine goes unwasted and is ingested with prosperity for all. I'm here keeping the sidelines safe from potential shav incursions, such as Clan Boredom or the Dull Conversation Tribe. I'm crushing them ruthlessly." He then gestures to an open spot as his bench in invitation.
Kieran looks over at Isolde and offers back, "See? I think I will give them a squeeze to find out." He chuckles at his banter with her, before looking back at Jaenelle. "She was veyr interesting. Very quick with the verbal barb." He notes her watching those heading off to dance and he offers her his arm, "Would you care to dance, Your Highness?"
Talen glides one step backward to permit Esera her space to approach and bedazzle Rohkir, his lips twisting in hints of amusement as he bows respectfully and removes himself from the vicinity. With ease he maneuvers around and back toward the pathway, meandering along with eyes curious in the light of the moon. As he sips his wine, he toasts silently the few he knows and matches gaze with. Hadrian's request to dance lands just short and so he moves that way, to console the poor fellow. "Duke Malvici, I suspect you'll be waiting at least one dance," he admits, "but in the meantime perhaps you'll entertain me with how you've been since our last meet? I am certainly not as graceful or elegant as my liege lady but it shall have to do, no? Either that or I can introduce you to some of the other fine princesses present?"
"Divide and conquer can be a powerful strategy in these situations," Niccolo belatedly observes to Hadrian, with hints of a smile touching his lips. The man's dark brown gaze returns to Nadia then, but not without a side glance to Esera and Rohkir when his daughter approaches the man. It is a short gesture, before the man's attention then falls back to Nadia. "Her Grace has certainly gone out of her way to make this night memorable," he observes with approval and a touch of pride in his voice. The duke offers his hand to Nadia then. "Romance, sometimes it feels like it might be a lost art," he observes. "Would you care to join me for a dance?"
Luca is caught. Again. At least he got a drink. "What? Wait, what?" He blinks at Ophelia, then looks up and traces his sister's movements of the last few moments with his eyes until he spots Rohkir. He watches the hulking man go with Esera to dance, starry-eyed. "Do you think he's any good?" He asks Ophelia, a thread of hope in his voice. He glances at Valencia, seeking any confirmation.
Margot circles the space a few times before a faint smile touches her lips and she moves closer to the very familiar Jaenelle, offering a nod to Isolde as she approaches, and turning a curious look over Kieran. "Princess Jaenelle, finally on one of my visits to the house I run into you..." \
Nadia receives Ophelia's guileless air kisses in stride, returning them flawlessly with a vibrant laugh. "I'm sure you have more, don't you, Your Highness? I'll have to hunt you down later in the evening for the rest of the details on how Lady Glenda reacted when she found out her beloved cat's fate," she promises, before her attention transitions to Luca afterward. "A pleasure, Your Highness," she manages, before her wine glass is pressed into the hand of her ever attentive servant. "Don't let Princess Valencia make off with my godsdamned bottle. -Watch- her," she whispers, a warm smile and a wink sent to Valencia before she obliges Niccolo all too happily. "I thought you'd never ask, my Lord. The last dance I had, Prince Kieran stepped all over my feet."
"Well when you put it like that, Duke Halfshav, you certainly make it seem appealing. I shall join the vanguard of the sideline, having been so moved to recruitment," Valencia laughs, taking a sip of her wine as she takes a spot on the bench. "You hair looks beautiful," she tells Deva, admiring the fiery red waves. "I'm sure he's not as good a dancer as you would be," she assures Luca with a gesture of her glass. "If you would only stop slouching so."
Valencia has joined the benches by the fountain.
Jaenelle nods towards Gustave as he enters the party, though she does not try to steal him for herself as he probably has to go greet people because thats the proper thing to do. Margot though, is fair game. Spotting the woman, Jae wiggles her fingers towards Margot, but stops mid calling as she is asked to dance. "I would love to" she tells Kieran as she places her unfinished glass of wine on one of the stone ledges. Before she does though, she gives Margot a hug and kiss to her cheek, "I am thrilled to see you. I will be back, and we must talk." She motions to Kieran and offers her hand, "dance waits for noone!" she calls over her shoulder to the other woman.
"And break the other ladies' hearts, Duke Hadrian?" Esera asks. "I'd not survive the night. But--" Her smiles is a dangerous one. "I'll be back for you." As Rohkir takes her hand in his, she spins to drag him out onto the courtyard. She is hardly strong enough to drag a man of his size anywhere, but she moves with force of will and passion both. "You could have denied me," she promises. "I would have understood."
Isolde smiles quietly as Esera and Niccolo take to the dance floor, a peaceful look on her masked face. She moves away a bit, heading to one of the quieter corners, letting her steps move in time to the music, pleased by the atmosphere of the party. She seems comfortable with her quiet bubble for the moment.
Isolde has joined the alcove by the archway.
"I had this marvelous idea that I would provoke all the fearsome warriors to challenge you at once. I think someone said that it would have to be about my honor, but I didn't want to cause a scandal," Ophelia confides towards Luca, fluttering invasively about his shoulder. Dark eyes turn towards Margot and Jaenelle afterward, a few capricious nudges pushing her sibling in that direction, "You should ask her to dance while I flawlessly escape into the maze. You can find me later. I just want an hour to hunt." Downing the rest of her wine fluidly, she delivers her empty goblet to the trailing servant with a wink to Luca, "I'll be back soon. Though, if I'm not back by dawn, you might want to find me."
Margot accepts the embrace of her sort of cousin and nods to let her go off to dance. "Enjoy it," She tells Jaenella. "Who ever he is he's handsome." She givves a wink to the woman before she steps away. Her hands flutter over her soft silk dress, smoothing imagined creases as she tries to get her barrings again.
Rohkir allows a rumbling chuckle for Esera, all eyes for her to Talen's loss. Too much greeting, not enough time, it would see. It's hardly a drag though, when he eases so into step beside her. "And I would have called myself a fool for many eves yet to do so." He offers a salacious wink. "As would every man here, no doubt!"
If Vercyn is the Duke of the sidelines, Gustave is contesting his inheritance. Halfway into his cup already when not nibbling, he continues to watch, to study. Occasionally he makes small talk but for the most part he tries to keep eyes slightly off to the side and deep into his cup so as to fend off the wolves. And such pretty ones they are. Mostly he keeps an ear out for names, for interesting anecdotes. Trusting to moonlight and thin lantern light to make him a very, very large shadow. Context, contect is all important.
"I'll strive to only step half the time over your feet then," Niccolo offers to Nadia in clear jest, taking the duchess hand in his and dipping his head. He leads her to the dance floor, finding a suitable spot where they will at least not run into other dancers. The Velenosa duke offers his daughters one more glance each, before his attention falls fully on Nadia. "I have to say my lady, you do look splendid today. I figured asking you to dance too soon would simply have been unseemly," he notes with some amusement. As the dancing begins, it appears the duke is actually pretty decent, guiding Nadia with deft movements over the dance floor.
Hadrian steps back with an unruffled smile, withdrawing his hand and greeting Talen. "Master Artiglio! I would entertain you - breaking and entering here, catching and making drama at the theater - but then I might have to face consequences," the Duke Malvici says, smile sliding into a grin. "There are many faces unfamiliar to me," he admits. "But while I have you here, perhaps you can tell me your thoughts on how you best use the sword at your side. With that form of hilt, where are fingers are best suited, and so on? I was disappointed I missed your Rite last week."
Luca gives Valencia a pained look. "I'm a fine dancer, that's not the point. I meant.." He stops to give a more pained look to Ophelia. "You're doing what? There are something like three women over there, who are you even talking about?" So lost, he looks left and right for a likely place to slouch over and get drunk. Perhaps watch Rohkir, in an only slightly creepy way.
Questions are spoken partially to the air, as Ophelia takes advantage of Luca's expression with a sweetly sympathetic one and a kiss imparted to his cheek. "The one who isn't dancing," she answers, before escaping off.
Ophelia has left the game.
Kieran leads Jaenelle out to the dance floor also occupied by Niccolor and Nadia. He overhears what Nadia says and grins, "Well, if you had stopped stepping where I was going to step..." He chuckles and adds for Jaenelle's benefit, "You love dancing now. You may not be so fond of it, after dancing with me." Another laugh is given, as he leads her into a simple waltz, moving through the practiced steps in rhythm to the music.
The music rises -- louder, faster and more spirited -- as Esera leads Rohkir out onto the dance floor. She pulls him into a dance that is not the sedate or stately dance of court, but something far more lively (and, in Lycene fashion, more exotic). "Careful, though," she murmurs to her partner. "We're dancing close to the pool -- and the pool is so dark. Watch your step!"
Talen clasps his gloved hands at his back, left capturing the wrist of the right in his palm. The posture helps continue to keep his spine upright, the formal stance of someone taught properly. While the Sword of Lenosia's eyes spy members of House Velenosa as they filter off this way and that, he nevertheless remains poised in place as she converses with the Duke of Southport. Keeping tabs on his charge, however, Esera and her companion are watched unobstrusively. "Ah, if you were to break and enter I should likely insist, as our wayward guest, that you sample the /finest of wines/," he jests in mock threat, looking downward and at an angle to Mirror Blade at his hip. "It is a challenge at times, if I am fighting a similar foe. Rapier-to-rapier is a game of fencing while this to axe is a whole different ball game. Are you a swordsman, your grace?"
Bliss arrives.
Nadia laughs at Niccolo's jesting words. "Then you've already won my favor, and spared me a most horrible fate," she says in playful theatrics, gently placing her hand upon his shoulder before falling gracefully into step with his deft movements. "You're too kind, my Lord. If you hadn't asked, I would've scrounged up the courage to invite you out myself," she confesses, her gaze straying past his shoulder to reward Kieran with a humored look. "It's alright if you're a shoddy dancer, Your Highness! Confession is the first step!"
Rohkir doesn't even hesitate much in taking to the dance, all smiles now that he's well and out of the group of people he -mostly- dwarfs. He's ever mindful of his relative nearby, gaze flitting to Prince Kieran long enough to make sure his own fun doesn't much impede. Why, two Redrain Princes at the dance with the hosting family, it might have been a simple affair to claim 'divide and conquer'. He draws closer to Esera during the more spirited dance though, lips moving near soundlessly.
Looking almost terrified at Nadia's words, the woman peeks from her to her dance partner and then down at her own silk slipper covered feet. "I am rather attached to my feet, exactly as they are" Jaenelle explains through the first steps of the dance. "If you find you have the urge to move passed your designated floor bounderies, please inform me of such. If all else fails, I will do as I did to my first dance instructor as a child and stand ontop of your feet as we move. Don't think I wont." She gives him a look, a look that says 'try me'.
"Pick one," Valencia tells Luca. "You're clearly outnumbered, are you going to let these pretenders to the throne of the dance-floor show you up on your own lawn?" she instigates with a dimpled smile full of mischief. "I might have to go teach him a thing or two, but not until after I've finished this glass of wine," she mentions as an aside to her benchmates.
Margot lets herself drift towards the nearest server, keeping one eye on the dances as she reaches for a goblet and takes a sip from it. A soft hum rolls in her throat, lost under the thrum of the music. A slight sway catches her steps as she drifts around and drinks.
Luca manages to look perplexed for a few seconds. Then he manages to drink his entire cup of wine in the space of a few more. He trades the empty for a full with a quick word of thanks to the lad who stopped to let him do so, and then the Prince Champion from before it was cool staggers gracefully to the nearest seat. It happens to be the end of the bench where Valencia is parked. "Hn." He says noncomitally to the idea of dance battles. "Welcome," he says a bit more convincingly to Vercyn and Deva. "I'm Luca Velenosa."
Luca has joined the benches by the fountain.
Kieran has left the game.
"Lady Margot, would you like to join me when your wanderings make their way over here?" Isolde calls over her goblet of wine, where she watches the goings on.
Kieran has entered the game.
Kieran looks to the nearby pool as Esera point it out. Oooooh! Pool! Prank opportunity... He turns his attention to Nadia and grins, "I think Prince Gareth would argue there re several steps that come before confession, and likely not many that follow." He chuckles darkly, before smiling brightly to Jaenelle, "Do as you must. I would hate to be responsible for ruining your toes." Then the mmusic picks up and he shakes his head a touch, before adding, "Actually, you might want to consider doing that now. It seems the Archduchesse likes things a bit more vigorous."
"Would you have, truly," Niccolo muses in response to Nadia, and like his daughter, the duke leads Nadia into move lively movements as the dancing progresses. "Perhaps I should have waited then for you to do so, I'd have been curious to see how you would go about it," the man notes, those dark brown eyes of his looking right into Nadia's moss greens.

"But have I not asked you to dance, I'm confident you would have found yourself a willing partner very quickly, my lady," Niccolo adds, "A woman such as you I doubt would go without dancing for long," he assures her. "You're both beautiful and an accomplished dancer," he observes.
"An afficionado of the art only, Master Talen," Hadrian answers the Sword of the Velenosa. "I have seen many with a blade closer to a rapier's width use a finger along the blade itself, even a partial finger-grip on the ricasso." He does not move to touch the Mirrorblade, but he does shape out the parts of the sword as he is referring to them, apparently a reflex. "Against an axe, yes," he admits, "You need your feet to move, not your sword to block." He puts an arm against Talen's shoulder. "Do excuse me, Master Talen, but my mission to put princesses on the dance floor requires that I take your leave."

And with that, he walks over to the benches by the fountain. "Your highness Valencia," he says, with just enough carry that the group will have opportunity to not be overheard, "Will you join me for a dance? The benches will feel all the more comfortable afterward."
The dance takes Esera and Rohkir dangerously close to the edge of the pool, as promised. One foot skims the water, and then she swirls away again. Her whispers are lost in the music, impossible to hear from very far away. As the music slows, and the dance slows with it, Esera lifts her partner's hand to her lips, brushes a kiss across his knuckles.
Margot's head lifts and then tilts. She smiles slightly and veers her path towards the mirrormask, "If you do not mind the company Princess. You seem to have located such a quiet little niche away from all the bustle..." She glances at the dance floor and then back to Isolde. "I am surprised you're not dancing."
Margot has joined the alcove by the archway.
Deva looks up from her drink - she's nearly done with her glass at this point - to smile in a slightly startled manner at Luca. "Hi," is her first response, abrupt and wide-eyed and incredibly casual. "Deva." Pause. "Redrain. Deva Redrain. Nice to meet you," after lightly clearing her throat, she bobs her head in a polite gesture in an effort to cover up her faux pas. "It's quite comfortable right here, so who can blame him?" she insists to Valencia with a quick, lazy shrug of both shoulders.
Talen fluids transitions into a bow, accepting the sudden departure of Hadrian without thought, as if the excuse needn't even be aired. "Of course, your grace," he replies, watching in which direction he goes, before throwing out a half-hearted warning, "but make sure you do not treat her highness, Princess Valencia, with anything but your utmost vim and vigor, or I shall be vexed!" Once the call is complete, he drinks from hips cup and polishes the last of the crimson off, passing it to one of servants and taking instead a small cracker, topped with cheese and grape.
Isolde laughs lightly and she shakes her head. "This is my sister's evening, and I would never take attention away from Papa when he's having a splendid time. I'll simply be cross at all the other men who haven't asked me to dance and collect a number of pretty things as recompense." She grins with a teasing tone, moving to make room on her bench, lowering her voice.
Vercyn shrugs helplessly at Deva, Luca and Valencia, "The Duke of the Sidelines wishes to commend your choices."
The evening wind rises; the lanterns that light the party tremble, and the flames within them flicker.
Kieran has left the game.
"Are you going to make dancing some sort of painful affair after which I will be ineffably grateful for the comfort of a seat, Duke Malvici?" Valencia asks, giving Hadrian a dubious sort of look. "Well, just mind the slippers," she says, extending a hand expectantly as she rises, all grace and diamonds. "They're new, and I would be heartbroken if you stomped on them over-much," she laughs.
Kieran has entered the game.
Valencia has left the benches by the fountain.
Rohkir noticeably crooks his fingers and tightens the grip of his hands at but the last moment as Esera's foot skims the water, bracing as such that she probably could have tried to jump in purposefully and that grip would have held her aloft. Then again, given that monstrous thing on his back, it's probably no wonder whether he could do such. He pulls her in closer, and spins her away from the pool to urge the dance on, almost as if in pursuit of her lively form. His lips move again, voice lower than the sound of the amusement but for an occasional rumble as certain syllables are rolled, or exaggerated given his northern accent.
"Of course," Nadia affirms to Niccolo with confidence, fingers tightening at the duke's shoulder as she's swept into more livelier steps, the finespun layers of her gown spiraling around her. "If you'd have waited, I'm quite positive that you'd have been terribly impressed. I've been told I can be quite creative when I desire to be," she points out with a soft laugh.

She studies his dark brown eyes in kind, expression one of pure delight. "You flatter me, my Lord. You're easily one of the most eye-catching gentlemen present tonight. Surely if I hadn't approached, several more ladies would've been fighting for your attentions."
Rohkir smiles, a surprisingly gentle expression for his elsewise warlike appearance.
Hadrian takes Valencia's hand. "Hardly painful, your highness," he says reassuringly, leading her out to where the dancers follow age-old formal patterns. His right hand moves to her waist and his left hand takes her right, before joining the dance right in a twisting circle that keeps them out of other dancers' paths. "Diamonds in motion glitter all the more."
The dancing continues and Niccolo slows down the pace to match the music. He allows hints of a smile to, in turn, dance upon his lips at Nadia's words, and there's a small quirk of his brow. He leans in, bringing her close and whispers to her ear. The duke's usually deep and gravelly voice is quiet, for only the ears of the duchess to hear. Through it all, his gaze never leaves hers, intense while he maintains that eye contact.
Jaenelle tsks softly, the sound probably only audible to Kieran as the music becomes faster and louder. Whatever disapproving look given before quickly disappears as she giggles as the pace increases, ever mindful of her poor toes and the shadows and pools that make dancing a bit more dangerous than it normally is. She lowers her voice just a touch to answer something her partner may have said in hushed tones.
"Yes, especially when you throw them at someone," Valencia informs Hadrian with an amused half-smile. She falls into the steps of the dance easily, seasilk swirling about her feet as they move in that twisting circle. "I'm honestly surprised you're much of a dancer at all, Your Grace. I'd heard that Southport was all trumpets of war and marching in place, hardly ideal for anything so demilitarized as a dancefloor."
Kieran has left the game.
Kieran has entered the game.
Donella arrives.
Esera keeps hold of Rohkir's hands, but pushes him away from her -- and closer to the pool. Her eyes are wide and bright and challenging. But, it is little more than the flirtation of dance; a moment later she pulls him back again. Caught in the breeze, and in each fiery turn and step, the skirts of her gown swirl and shift and reveal rare flashes of leg. Her breathing is quick, her cheeks flushed, and her hair a tumbled disarray, but she delights in the dance no less.
Kieran whisper something back with a chuckle, as he does his best to keep pac with the fster music. "This is what I get for not paying attention during dancing lessons." He eyes the pool again and slowly moves /away/ from it. Yes, it would be a great prank, but he doesn't trust his poor dancing enough to ensure he doesn't end up in the drink instead.
Ophelia has entered the game.
"A vicious slander, your highness," Hadrian tells Valencia with amusement. This next part involves the long-long-short steps in sequence, and he concentrates more on ensuring they move as one during the first measure. "We work before we play, but we do play. We might call it an 'agility drill,' but it is no less enjoyable - or less well-dressed." And on into the next flowing steps and spin. He says something more softly as they turn.
Fashionable late, there is soon another arrival to the party; Champion Bliss Whisper. Her smile is subtler, expression tending towards the inquisitive at her arrival. Once she arrives on the grounds, she wanders through them, taking in the sights of those gathered. Those dancing get an almost envious look, and one might assume she's hunting for a partner as she wanders. As she passes a server, she lifts a goblet off a tray to take a sip. Her gaze lingers when she spots Princess Isolde, but she doesn't approach just yet, seeing people there and still getting a feel for the party. She doesn't hear the lamenting of lack of dance partners. Perhaps for the best, depending on one's perspective. For now she lingers, looking for those alone, those conversing, trying to catch a snippet of something interesting.
Jaenelle shakes her head quickly to whatever transpires between she and Kieran as the dance continues and the steps lead them away from the water's edges. "It is never to late to learn to be graceful. See, you are doing wonderfully." Ever the diplomat.
Ophelia winds her way from the darker shadows of the gardens, with whatever efforts of her 'hunt' going undisplayed. Wearing an impossibly mischief-laden smile, she arrives just in time to float towards the dance floor and score a look towards those present.
Isolde speaks quietly with Margot at the benches, she glances over and offers Bliss a friendly wave and a bright smile. "Welcome, Champion. Eat, drink, and be merry! And do let me know if these rude men do not ask you to dance immediately. I shall be quite cross with them."
Nadia wrinkles her nose thoughtfully. "How would one impress the gallant Duke Niccolo in a sea of ravishing, delightful young ladies, of whom he might have relations to," she muses, her splayed fingers at his shoulder tapping lightly to the melody of the music. "Well, you weren't -supposed- to actually ask... But, honestly, I would've just came and asked for your hand. It isn't attractive when a lady tries far too hard."
Talen polishes the remains of the crumbs from his cracker and dusts his hands together, the leather of his gloves quickly shaking loose any lingering matter. Resuming once more his clasped arms, he moves with steady steps in amongst the idler crowd, avoiding the dance floor which is made use of by a handful of couples. Lifting his chin as he spots Bliss winding her way down the path, the Sword inclines his head toward the champion, unfamiliar but polite in his greeting it seems. Hearing Isolde's last few words however, he looks in the princess' direction and calls out in short order, "I could offer you both a dance, if you wish. I have two arms and now, thanks to some rest, two working legs too."
"An agility drill," Valencia echoes Hadrian, eyeing him with a pained skepticism. "What a dreadful term for a ball." Spotting Ophelia from over Hadrian's shoulder, her expression turns to one of clear worry, at least until it is ascertained that the Velenosa princess is not, in fact, carrying some poor dead bird. "What else do you do for entertainment in Southport? I confess, I've never been."
Margot looks over Bliss when Isolde greets her and then catches sight of Donella. Her hand lifting to wave to the Thrax princess when she catches her eye.
Rohkir seems terribly amused, as he moves with Esera even as the playful nature of their dance grows. His gaze never leaves her face, and yet somehow he does indeed seem quite aware of his surroundings. Occasionally when that garment swings wide does he step in more, a hand brushing it back downward as if mindful of the fact that it should indeed stay quite down...or perhaps he just really wanted to lay hands on the garment. It'd be hard to tell.
"Do you know," Donella Thrax says as she plucks up a glass to hold, the contents the color of her hair veil, "I don't think women are limited to dancing the women's part." She has apparently slipped in, and is now making overtures toward saluting the hostess. "Your steps are all easier anyway; steering, and in less complicated shoes."
Duke Hadrian towers an extra half-foot over Ophelia's diminuitive form, but it appears to give the Princess no pause. As if he didn't exist, she crosses with sheer intent, winding her way gracefully through those dancing to try to sever the connection between him and Valencia in a clear, bodily attempt to sweep the woman away for her own interferring dance, willful and bold. Rather than speak excuses and apologies, it's only an exuberant string of chittering words she displays to the Redrain Princess, "Oh, Princess-Cousin, I saw the most gorgeous bird, but I was bow-less. You would've loved it. Let me tell you all about it."
Vercyn has joined the benches by the fountain.
Deva has joined the benches by the fountain.
Luca has joined the benches by the fountain.
Isolde has joined the alcove by the archway.
Margot has joined the alcove by the archway.
"Did you kill it?" Valencia asks Ophelia, her alarm palpable as the chattering princess cuts into her dance. "I'll catch up with you a bit later," she tells Hadrian with a helpless half-smile as she sweeps Ophelia immediately into a dance, moving the younger woman away from the other dancers before she can spill forth her confession. As Donella so recently mentioned, Valencia easily slips into the role of dancing the man's part, nigh effortlessly spinning and swirling Ophelia toward a shadowy corner of the garden's impromptu dance floor.
Valencia has joined the shadowy corner of the gardens.
Ophelia has joined the shadowy corner of the gardens.
Niccolo studies Nadia with curiosity and lifts a brow at her words. He dips his head at her response. "That's a fair answer," he says, foregoing the whispering this time around. Slowly, he brings the dancing to a stop and when it ends, he holds Nadia's hand in his, bringing it to his lips for an air-kiss, not actually letting pressing them to her fingers. "Thank you my lady, for the wonderful dance," he says as he brows. "It was quite lovely," he tells her and steps back. "I'll let you enjoy dancing with others, I wouldn't want to be too greedy and keep you to myself for the rest of the night," he notes, offering to guide her out of the dance floor.
Esera's grip on Rohkir's hands tighten, and her dance steps slow. She laughs, but she is out of breath just the same. "I fear I spend too much time behind my desk," she confesses. She releases one of Rohkir's hands, so that she can push her back behind one shoulder and out of her face. "I would dance forever, if I was able."
That infectious level of enthusiasm has her giggling indulgently in Valencia's ear, no matter how many twists or turns it takes, swayed by the location of Valencia's arms and with her own limbs cradled about her shoulders with the shifting of her skirts until they found their own placement, amid laughter, in the shadows.
"You can be assured I will, your highness!" Bliss announces to Isolde with a bright smile, holding up her goblet as if in salute or toast. As she does not specify where her agreement lies with Isolde's requests, one can assume she intends to do them all. Talen, for his part, gets a curious glance. She steps lightly his way, giving a nod and offering her hand. "Who am I to turn down such an offer, when I've just been commanded to be merry?" she wonders in mock-questioning tone.
Jaenelle laughs lightly, the the action brightening up her entire face as she takes a step away from Kieran as their dance comes to an end as well. "We would not wish that, not one bit. I suggect you go save the entire party from that fate and offer yourself as a sacrifice."
Donella raises her glass to Valencia picking up the proverbial gauntlet, smiling slantways. The Voice of Prince Donrai makes herself comfortable, observing the revelry over the rim of her glass.
"Games of chance and strategy, garden parties, salons to discuss the issues of the day." Hadria nsmiles slightly. "You mustn't always take me at face value, your highness. Gatherings like this aren't uncommon, and they aren't called-" But then Ophelia cuts in without so much as a by-your-leave. He releases the princess and bows deeply in the direction she and Ophelia flee, chuckling as he rises.

He takes a glass of wine from a servant and makes his way down towards the archway, and its alcove. "Good evening, your highness; my lady."
Hadrian also looks to meet Donella's gaze, tilting his head towards the group he is joining before taking shelter in the alcove.
Hadrian has joined the alcove by the archway.
Rohkir laughs, jovial, and though he seems not at all winded he offers, "But you would miss much of a party that way, no?" His own dancing slows as hers does, apparently having been taking her ques for most of the dance even when he was on the pursuit. He gives a brief hook of his head as if to indicate away from the dance floor.
Kieran whispers some more with Jaenelle, before gesturing over to the alcove. "Shall we avert disaster then?" He continues dancing, but slower, as he waits for an answer.
Luca is sprawled on a bench with Vercyn and Deva, but now he leans the other way to spy his sister giggling and dismembering someone in the shadows. Or dancing? Whatever. "Yes, that's her." He confirms.
Laughter can be heard from the shadowy corner of the garden where Valencia and Ophelia dance together, the Redrain royal giving her companion a spin before drawing her close again, the two exchanging amused words by the look of things, though too far off from the main party for their words to be overheard.
Nadia smiles faintly at Niccolo. "You're quite the dancer, my Lord. You've my thanks for harming my feet," she murmurs in soft jesting, her chin dipped a fraction with her own curtsy in return. Her voice lowers to allow for a more hushed exchanged of words as she's led from the dance floor.
Vercyn listens to Luca's words with a sense of puzzlement and turns his bemused gaze over towards Valencia and Ophelia. He then asks Luca, "With bows? Were you speaking metaphorically? Or is that sort of thing too much effort?" He then turns towards Deva, "We should meet her, or invite her to join the Duchy of the Sidelines."
Talen extends his leather bound arm to capture Bliss' hand in a snug embrace of his own, tilting forward in half of a bow so he might respectfully acknowledge the acceptance. "Indeed, it is unwise to deny a princess, much less her highness, Princess Isolde," is confirmed. "I am Talen Artiglio, a pleasure to meet you, Champion...?" he permits to the champion, clearly expecting an introduction before they begin. Even so, he looks in Isolde's direction as if waiting for her to decide if she'll cross the floor and join them. Soon after he begins to take steps, a steady, natural pace drawing him and his dance partner for the moment to the floor. Eye alight upon the rapier at her hip, his words yet to come but attention and interest clear.
"What would a bow be a metaphor...for?" Luca wonders, bemused.
After a moment of consideration, Jaenelle motions for the man to make his move, "I think I might need to find and finish my glass of wine before I avert that particular disaster. It seems like a grand task, and I might not be up for it until after." She winks at Kieran, but does follow towards the alcove when he leads, stopping before Isolde and Margot.
(OOC) Luca says: I hope I didn't kill the party with such a lame line. Shit.
"Once a heroine, always a heroine," Ophelia strikes a heroic-quality poise, though its both mid-dance and mid-spin, which leaves her facing the opposite direction and then trying to tumble back ever-so-trustingly into Valencia's arms. "We shall save them all, or kidnap him, or... what were we doing again? Pish. No matter." As freer laughter is relinquished, she's seeking to link her arms with Valencia's own and rove towards the comfortable sprawl of Luca with Vercyn and Deva both with clear intent. Presenting herself in a wine-comforted curtsey, without loosening her affectionate hold upon the Redrain royal, she intrudes with a dimpled smile, "Forgive me, your Grace, your Highness, might we also learn about bow metaphors and sidelines?"
(OOC) Luca says: PHEW
Kieran finishes the dance with Jaenelle and gives her a slight bow. "Thank you for being sure to step where my feet were not going to go. You did excellent work." He chuckles and leads her from the dance floor int the direction of the alcove where Isolde and Margot conspire. "Your Highness. My Lady. I heard you promising woe to all if someone did not ask you to dance. I offer myself as a dancing partner, but fear for your feet if you accept."
Niccolo walks with Nadia away from the dance floor, leaning in to listen to her quiet words. He studies her again, with eyes that narrow somewhat and remains leaned into her some as he speaks quietly in turn.
Margot curtsies as Kieran and Jaenelle approach. "You dance wonderfully Princess. Will you now introduce me to your charming escort." To Kieran she smiles lightly, "I don't believe we have yet been aquainted."
Calista arrives.
Esera looks out across the dance floor, and then past it -- to the benches and the fountains and the servants with their trays of wine. "I am glad to see so many people here," she tells Rohkir. "Not just my own people, but..." She bows her head to him -- a show of conscious humility. "People of so many different houses, so many different allegiances." She lifts her head again, and smiles to him.
Vercyn smiles broadly at Ophelia and Valencia, gesturing grandly towards his bench, "Welcome to the Duchy of the Sidelines, the safest benches in all of Arvum. While there have been some small raids by the Bored Berserkers, a shav tribe known for their steadfast adherence to sobriety, it's warded them off in good stead. Have a seat, and please let me introduce her highness Princess Deva Redrain."
Luca levers himself back upright to make room.
Gustave seems to have found his peers. Unfortunately, this seems to be largely amongs the various guards and footmen of the party. Given his perhaps less than noble forbearance and his agreaableness, its not surprising that he is mistaken for an off duty servant, given a plate of appetizers and sent amongst the throng. Perhaps if he had been of another house, or if he had felt any less the fish out of water he would have been rebuffed, but apparently he's all too quickly roped in to delivering drinks and minor requests after being rather forcibly told that there is no uniform in his size and thus he'll have to make do with what the servant charitably calls 'a horse blanket'. Its a very nice horse blanket, but still, it would probably shock and scandalize his peers. This is not the first time this has happened outside of Blackram lands, and will probably not be the last. "So you'd like a bit more of the lamb, an extra wine glass..." Marquis Blackram is not perhaps the quickest student of the servile arts, but damn it he's tryingg.
Willingly dragged alongside Ophelia back to the stronghold of the Duchy of the Sideline, Valencia informs her, "I've already converted. I daresay you should have Duke Halfshav repeat his pitch to you, he'll make converts of us all yet." She nudges Luca as he sits upright, reaching for her glass of wine so sadly abandoned prior to her foray out onto the dance floor. "Make room for your sister - and me?" she asks ever so sweetly, looking likely to sit on him if he doesn't shift quickly.
Valencia has left the shadowy corner of the gardens.
Valencia has joined the benches by the fountain.
The flames that burn in the lanterns sputter again -- and this time, go out entirely. All of them, all at once. The courtyard is bathed in silver moonlight, and in shadow.
Ophelia has left the shadowy corner of the gardens.
Ophelia has joined the benches by the fountain.
Vercyn looks up, "Well, that was sudden."
At a halt, Rohkir clasps a fist and gently brings it in to touch the area over his heart, inclining his head. Given his height, it isn't much of a bow, but it's returned respect at the very least. "It is in times like these that we may cast a moment to memory. All will not be quiet forever."
Nadia lingers beside Niccolo to hear his whispered words, a furtive smile curling her lips with a bow of her head. "Thank you for indulg-," she begins, the sudden plunge into darkness elicting a surprised noise from the duchess.
That levering which Luca committed himself to has him narrowly missing the knee that Ophelia was discreetly attempting to knock against his shoulder, with the mishap having her curtsey all the deeper and her smile all the more obvious when she greets Deva. "It's such a pleasure to-" Ophelia pauses mid-word, leaning towards Valencia as she expresses in a hushed whisper, with a bit of uncertainty, "... It wasn't me."
Isolde laughs richly and she lifts a brow as Kieran and Jaenelle approach. "Darling, did this Northern brute treat you kindly enough? One must always be wary of the charms of the North. They have, after all, stolen my cousin Valencia away and I may never forgive them." She motions to Margot. "Prince Kieran, this is Lady Margot. Lady Margot, this is Prince Kieran of House Redrain." She looks to Kieran, a pout that doesn't match the spark in her eyes crosses her lips. "Prince Kieran, it does not -count- if you do so out of fear. You must actually -want- to dance with me, you know. Otherwise I shall pine away with the knowledge that I am not beloved, but feared. I have no desire to rule, so would -much- rather be loved." She pauses as the lights go out, her breath catching in her throat. Her eyes widen as her mirrormask reflects the moonlight, causing it to dance over her companions.
"It's good to meet you too. I've heard some remark--" Deva scoots to make room for the new arrivals, while giving Luca a terribly amused little grin, but it all falters as the lights go out. "Oh. Well then."
Donella drops her glass at the suddenness. "Whoops. ... I didn't know it was that sort of party," she murmurs dryly, to no one. Or at least it sounds like her.
Valencia shrieks obligingly as the lights go out. "Hold me," she tells Ophelia dramatically, one arm around the princess and the other protecting her glass of wine, as the darkness might make finding another a perilous endeavor.
Harlan arrives.
Margot reaches over to take Hadrian's arm, "Of course there is not, though I shall warn you you toes are in mortal danger in this venture." She winks up to the Duke. "Prince Kieran, I have heard so much about you. It's a pleasure though if you excuse me I think I am being accousted by this handsome duke." She flashes an almost impish grin to Jaenelle, even if it's short lived. "Shall we?"
Niccolo dips his head to Nadia and is about to fully step away from her, when the lights go out. He remains at the duchess side, although his eyes narrow as they scan the grounds, as if looking for something.
Fashionably late is an understatement. Lady Calista Fidante makes her entrance to the Moonlight Social held at the Velenosa estate. The young woman, resplendent in silks that shimmer in shades of blush and bashful nearly vibrates with excitement as dark green eyes fall upon the patrons. She sets to walk through the throngs of party goers, stopping here and there to offer a pleasant hello. No one could possibly rip the brilliant smile off her face.
"Champion Bliss Whisper," Bliss answers to Talen, drinking more alcohol before offering the goblet to another server to focus on the dance, "And yes. I'm both." She starts to move with the music, "I don't think Princess Isolde quite heard your offer, though." And then... the lights go out. Bliss faulters for only a half-step, but she seems inclined to continue unless the music stops, taking the lead if her partner faulters. "Nice atmosphere, don't you think?" she muses.
Though the courtyard is dark, it is nevertheless a courtyard Esera knows very well, and she moves through the shadows as confidentaly as through the light, to take a seat upon one of the garden benches. "It is more beautiful, without the lanterns," she says, looking up at the night sky. "You cannot see the stars, when other lights shine bright below them."
Esera has joined the garden benches.
Platter in one hand, blade in the other. If Gustave absolutely has to he will foresake the vittles, with much apologies to whatever wait staff there is, a low growl in his throat as he shifts to a more martial stance. This may be a thing for Southerners, but for him the lights going out usually means shavs. Though admittedly he does feel a bit unprepared to face the peril dressed as staff. Its only after he realizes that this seems enitrely planned that he sheepishly draws his sword, and is immediately press ganged back to work.
Rohkir has joined the garden benches.
Servants dressed in soft purple arrive from each pathway, carrying lanterns of their own -- dancing lights, that shift and sway in their hands. They move, in ceremonial procession, through the courtyard. Each one takes their place. Light is restored.
Jaenelle nods her head sagely, "he was quite the gentleman, I admit. He only stepped on my toes a handful of times, and I am sure that was my own doing as I did not move my feet quickly enough to avoid his much larger ones." As the lanterns fade, the Thraxian turned Velenose pays it little attention, perhaps enjoying the moonlight far more, "Lady Margot, enjoy!" With that, she takes up her wine glass once more, "oh but he does wish to dance, Isolde. He really does." Nught nught.
Rohkir eases down, mindful of the large blade on his back. A quick pull and something audibly snaps, a buckle or catch releasing and he props it nearby so that he can rest easier.
Donella makes an exit under the light of swaying lanterns.
Donella is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Reflection Square.
One of those Velenosan servants looks at Gustave with irritation, and presses a spare lantern into his hands. Hired help these days.
Harlan Ashford steps foot on the Velenosa grounds and glances around. Closing his eyes, he takes a deep breath, savoring the night air. Slowly, he exhales, opening his eyes, his emerald gaze taking in the crowd. "At least it's outside." He mutters to himself, stepping forward to accept a drink from a servant. Glancing at the wine, there's a moment of hesitation before he drinks deep, fortifying himself for whatever may come.
Talen has a moment where his eyes must adjust but the Sword seems to only look in the direction of the theatrics, his blink bringing him back vision that is landed upon Bliss. A small twist of his lips, unseen at first until the lights are returned, marks his amusement. "Indeed," he utters, on the fact that Bliss asserts so insistently that she is both her professions at once. "That's quite alright," he utters on the mention of a lost potential companion, "then the dance shall be our own. Shall we?" he offers, striking a stance for a traditional dance. "You find your home in Arx then, I presume?" he asks then, out of curiousity.
Nadia places her hand upon Niccolo's upper arm while her eyes adjust to the darkness. "Oh, look," the duchess might've just squealed at the sight of the dancing lights as she points out the parade of servants pouring into the courtyard. "They remind me of the fireflies I'd seen the other night, not far from the stone grove."
Kieran smiles to Margot and is about to introduce himself to her, when Isolde does it for him. He smiles a bit at her words, "We would consider giving her back for more of that delightful wine. Though, she seems to be quite taken with our windswept, snow covered mountains. I suspect there is a romantic in everyone that enjoys the natural beauty of the north." His grin grows as he adds, "It's fear on both ends. Fear for what you may do, and you should fear what my feet will do. They cancel out. But, if I shall rephrase, 'It would be my pleasure to dance poorly for your amusement." He looks then to Margot and gives her a wink, "O perhaps we can all dance together. I know a couple of Redrain group dances." Then the lights go out and he blinks. "Now your toes should be utterly terrified as I cannot see where I step.
At the crowded bench serving as the duchy of the sidelines, laughter rings out, and there is a shuffling of seats between shadowy figures. Valencia tips her face up into the moonlight, looking at the stars as the lantern procession moves into place. "Very pretty," she notes appreciatively. "Certainly bright enough for someone to come and refill my glass, I'm entirely sure."
Hadrian is quiet when the lights go out, and wearing dark colors, he's not easy to see. When the lights are brought back in, he is not where he was, instead with a foot out of the alcove, eyes narrowed. He steps back in, saying something to his companions.
Luca hoots as the lights begin moving along the paths. Is that the right thing to do?
A swift kick towards Luca's back from none other from his loving sister Ophelia provides an answer.
Gustave seems terribly large and imposing amongst the throng, but he rushes dutifully into the ceremonial line, holding up his lantern. Truth be told its far more comfortable to him than the notion of noble socialization. Help indeed, he understands helping. Shoulders rolling, the occasiona swing of lantern as he tries to keep it steady. At least until Gustave hears the call for someone to refill Valencia's glass. He begins to have the hang of it, a freshening of her glass accomplished with a minimum of jostling and crashing about. "Your wine, My Lady." He intones. There seems to be visible indecision on his face. Is he supposed to get back to work? Is he supposed to do the noble thing and socialize? "Will there be anything else?"
Niccolo glances at Nadia when he feels her touch on his arm, but then follows her gaze to the dancing lights. Hints of a smile appear on his lips and he dips his head. "It must have been a beautiful sight," he offers, finding himself a little lost in the display. He slowly turns to Nadia once more and bows to the duchess. "You've been wonderful company tonight, my lady. And while I'd greedily continue to keep you at my side, I'm afraid I must retire for the evening. Thank you again for the dance, and the conversation."
"Ow," Luca says obligingly. He looks up at Gustave as the man fills Valencia's wine. "Hey. You've got a big sword. And a lantern. And wine." He pauses. Meaningfully?
(OOC) Gustave says: "Anything else, my lords, my ladies?"
Isolde looks skeptically at Jaenelle's claim, but she laughs warmly, nodding as Hadrian claims Margot for a dance. "Darling, will you be all right if I allow the Prince here to make it up to me and steal me for a dance? I do not wish to leave you without company." She offers her hand to Kieran, standing gracefully. "I can make no promises of my own dancing prowess, I'm afraid. I usually tried to avoid those lessons so I could steal away to the library and read more." She laughs richly, waiting for Jaenelle to give her leave, out of hospitality.
Margot leans closer to Hadrain when the lights dim and return. She holds lets him lead her out towards the dance floor. Her voice dips between the two of them while they move.
The lights go out and Calista trips against someone or something and when the servants bring the lanterns to illuminate the space, she realizes she's clinging onto the front of Harlan's clothing. "OH! Hello there. I.. well I thought you were a pillar!"
A glance sweeps back from Bliss to Isolde momentarily before returning to her dance partner, Talen. She follows the dancing posture, giving a light nod, "We shall. And I do. And yourself?"
Vercyn follows Luca's gaze to look up at Gustave. And up. And up. "Damn. You just keep going, my lord."
"Oh, you're rather large," Valencia tells Gustave as he refills her glass of wine. "Perhaps you might like to fight this one?" she says, pointing rather rudely at Luca. "His sister would be very grateful if you might," she says, this time nodding to Ophelia. "It needn't be right this moment, of course," she adds graciously, sipping from her glass. "What are you drinking?" she asks Vercyn.
Jaenelle watches the lights travel down the many paths to light the grounds with a look of innocent awe as things begin twinkling into visability again. She smiles towards both Kieran and Isolde, "I almost demand that you both dance." She shoos them away even as she moves towards where the large man with the lantern is. She pauses beside Gustave, patiently waiting until he stops...serving?
Nadia is slow to tear her gaze away from the display. "It was my pleasure," she promises to Niccolo, a modicum of disappointment lacing her tone. "You were a gracious companion, my lord. Please, enjoy the rest of your evening." The duchess offers him a small smile before her attention returns to the remainder of the party searchingly.
Ophelia's glass likewise hovers upwards towards Gustave after Valencia's threatened goblet is also filled, distracted temporarily, "Oh! Yes, please fight him. I will be ever so appreciative. But... after wine?"
"I think I was supposed to be a guest. But then they said they needed help. And that they didn't have anything in my size." Gustave manages to get out. Not necessarily simple, but certainly willing to go with the flow of things. And the staff had looked like they could use a bit of assistance....and its not like he had never poured wine before. The sword? He'd almost forgotten that he had it on. He looks back at it with a slight look of bewilderment. "I don't do so well with small weapons. They don't quite feel right. Like fighting with a toothpick." At which point he looks at Valencia, cocking his head as if in disbelief. "Why would I fight him? I have no quarrel with him, and he's not a shav. I might hurt him. Or he might hurt me. Either way, it seems like a waste." At which point he looks over at Jaenelle. "Is there something wrong, Princess?" As if being press ganged into the hired help is the most natural thing int the world.
Hadrian is speaking softly to Margot as they reach the proper posture, take each other in hand, and begin to move to the current music, sidestepping as necessary and occasionally raising his hand to signal Margot to take a twirl of her own. He is smiling, though his eyes do occasionally depart his dance partner's for swift glances around.
Harlan grunts when something or someone runs into him. Glancing down at Calista, he chuckles. "A pillar?" His eyes dance with amusement at the thought. "I try to be. A pillar of certainty during uncertain times, I mean. Do you like it? I've been thinking it up for a while." He politely takes a step back, posture rigid as he allows Calista the opportunity to collect herself. "I only heard about this little affair not to long ago. A pity about the former Archduchess. I'd love to go out and hunt down whoever did it, but duties and responsibilities." He sounds slightly pained towards the end.
Luca waves a hand. "Ignore them," he tells Gustave, glancing between the man and Vercyn. "I think they're matchmaking for me. I don't know you, apologies. Give those things off and have a seat, enjoy the party."
Hadrian has left the alcove by the archway.
Margot is not so inept as she claims, she follows the Duke's lead, easily moving along to the steps he dictates, never knicking his toes with her slippered feet.
Talen slowly winds Bliss into the movements of the dance and makes no assumptions, each transition one that allows either member of the dance to take an equal lead at different junctures. "I was born south, I lived south most of my life but I find myself here now," he explains in idle discussion, letting his eyes fall over others only sparingly before they return to his partner. "I'm the Sword of Lenosia and so it's fitting I was born there, I suppose." As the Artiglio man steps sideways thrice, each booted step lands with excellent command of his frame, good grace and powerful transition of limbs. "You fight with a rapier?" he query, acknowledging the blade with a nod downward as his hands remain occupied. "I approve. Do you take inspiration from the Lycene technique or just like the lighter weaponry?" he wonders aloud.
Margot has left the alcove by the archway.
Having stepped away from Nadia, Niccolo turns his attention first to Isolde and then to Esera. Rather than go disturb them both, he watches them for a few moments. His dark brown eyes then find Talen and it's on the young man that those eyes linger. He turns around, and seeing Valencia and Ophelia along with Luca and Vercyn, offers them a faint smile, before he continues on his way to the estate.
Kieran smiles to Isolde and takes her hand when she offers it and Jaenelle gives her leave. "Oh, then we are the perfect pair. Both of us shall be staying off our feet for the rest of the evening." After leading her out to the dance floor, he place sone hand on the Princess' hip and holds her hand in the other. Counting quietly to himself her starts to lead her into his practiced waltz. "Though, I skipped my lessons to go outside and cause trouble."
"Of course not, Marquis Gustave, nothing could ever be wrong when one is able to enjoy a beautiful night with wonderful company" Jaenelle says smoothly even as she carefully slides the bottle of wine from the man's hand and effortlessly passes it on to one of the servants. She keeps eye contact, the corners of her lips curve upward as next the tiny woman beside the large man asks, "might I see the lantern? It is lovely, isn't it, the way the light twinkles and flickers against the darkness."
Nadia has joined the benches by the fountain.
Isolde has left the alcove by the archway.
"It is very much my right to match make," Ophelia decides with the looming threat of a pout hindering her expression, before she espies that look, purely by chance, from Niccolo. "Oh! Favorite Grace-Uncle, you're not going inside, are you? But our hunting party is getting so very-very large. You must partake in it." The wine goblet is flourished a bit in her hand, "And in this..."
"Thank you, darling. I will make it up to you, I promise." Isolde kisses Jaenelle's cheek, and lets Kieran lead her to the dance floor. She moves with -some- skill, but no one would be distracted or amazed by her dancing. She doesn't count out loud, but merely laughs richly at Kieran's claim. "I am utterly and completely shocked, Prince Kieran." Clearly there is absolutely zero shock in Isolde's expression. She tilts her head. "And what trouble does a Prince of the North get into? That you can share in polite company, that is. We have our own sorts of trouble in the South, so I am curious."
"Uncle," Valencia calls to Niccolo from where she's seated. "Do you know of any playrrights?" she asks as he makes his way back toward the estate. "Prince Luca and the Marquise here have just given me inspiration for a play I should love to sponsor, about two knights set to duel one another but inconsolably certain that the other is a better fighter, and so throughout the play they bemoan their dire misfortune to their own friends and avoid one another at parties before the duel," she summarizes. "A gross overstatement of the interaction here tonight of course, but I am amused - do you think others would be as well?"
Luca looks relieved that Jaenelle is fixing things, and subsides back into his sprawl. He tries to snag the bottle of wine rescued from poor Gustave during his rescue.
"That is quite poetic. Are you sure that is something you've been mulling over because it seems like you came up with that right off the cuff. Quick and sharp with your words." Calista tells Harlan. Her hands leave his chest but she gently pats down the front of his clothes to smooth them down. No, she totally wasn't afraid of the dark. Nope. "I'm Lady Calista Fidante of Tor, sister to Duke Leo Fidante. I am going to assume you have recently arrived to Arx?" The young woman takes a step back to truly observe the man she slightly accosted in the dark.
Hadrian guides Margot about the floor with gentle pressures at her hip and the slightest pressure against her hand. He moves lightly, their steps following the elongated rectangular pattern prescribed for them. He nods once and speaks in a low voice as they make their way along the edge of the dance area.
Esera watches Hadrian, from across the courtyard, with unhidden interest.
Bliss keeps pace with her partner. Fairly easily, in fact. Almost as if she's holding back to keep pace, really. Almost. He certainly doesn't seem to need to be careful, in any case, once he gets a feel for her ability to keep pace. "Quite a title," she admits, raising a brow lightly as she moves with Talen. "I fence, yes. And I take on all challengers, too, if you feel you're man enough," she gives a wink at him, tone playful, "And I'm Lycean myself. And it's in Lyceum I learned to fence. If that answers your question, Mister Artiglio."
Esera has left the garden benches.
"They are nicer than the armor I was wearing, though. More fitting for something like this." Noble switch on! Bows, nods of head, all performed well if a touch robotically. "Marquis Gustave Blackram, as the princess has said. A pleasure to meet you, lords, ladies." He tries to cover as much ground as he can with as few words as possible even as Jaenelle confiscates the wine bottle. He hands off the lantern with no fuss, seemingly content to let Jaenelle rescue him for the moment. "Also Duke Halshav, I have been told it is quite the fascination for others...." This being before Valencia tlks of plays and melodramatic conflict. "...but that makes no sense. If you're certain your enemy is better you tell no one. You either make yourself better, find a way to excuse the offense, or you grab your friends and neighbors and kill him."
Rohkir allows his gaze to linger on Esera's back for a moment longer, giving a small nod to no one in particular as if confirming some thought.
(OOC) Gustave says: Argh. Typos.
(OOC) Valencia says: We ALL read fluent typo, not to worry.
Esera approaches the dance floor, but stands just at the edge of it, still as a statute (if not for the breeze through her hair).
Kieran grins at the mirrormasked woman in front of him, or is he grinning at his own reflection? He does amuse himself so, afterall. "Your shock does not seem to be so great as to hide your superior dancing skills, so you must not have skipped all of the lessons." He lifts her hand to coax her into a twirl, before answering her question, "Well, there is, of course, bear wrestling out of season; bear tipping, which is when you push over hibernating bears; causing bear stapedes, and finally, my favorite, hiding a bear in someone's bed, which does not involve bears, but instead me sneaking one of our hairier guards into someone's bedroom to jump out and scare them." How accurate any of these thing are is anyone's guess.
"It certainly does," Talen replies in short order, no small amount of mirth bleeding into his eyes. Almost in competition then, his pace picks up. Each step is done with a quickened snap, strike and push and as they move the pace is due to increase. There's a tempo that isn't inappropriately hurried but meant to prove the edges of Bliss' capability versus his own. In due course however, he's no doubt outmatched, his natural grace and strength nothing compared to courtesan-trained dancing technique. Talen's own ability to move in courtly ways is clearly limited, his understanding of the dance only practiced to a degree whereby he is suitable in situations such as this. "Ah, then I am very lucky to have picked a refined soul, Champion. You'll have to give me the scoop on Arx, sometime. It's quite a different place to back home, is it not? All these... rules and expectations," he intones, looking to the left to ensure it's clear being swinging their weight that way, sending them careening off in that direction.
The sound first of Ophelia's voice, and then Valencia's catches Niccolo's attention and brings him to a stop in his retreat. He pivots and makes his way to them. "I was, my dear Princess Niece," he admits to Ophelia as he approaches. "And I'd love to join you and share some more wine, unfortunately I have meetings early in the morning with merchants from Lenosia," he says.

His attention then goes to Valencia and he lifts a brow at her question, "And my other Princess Niece, a playwright you say," he rubs his chin, his gaze lingering on her. "As far as plays go, it sounds like an interesting one. I'd actually go and see that one," he tells her with some amusement of his own. "I think others might, but alas, I know not of any playwrights," he offers with a pursing of his lips. "I might know someone that does, though."
Hadrian notices Esera's gaze and meets it for a moment. There is a small nod, though he does not stop dancing mid-measure.
Rohkir's gaze lands on Gustave, and he blinks. There's a certain wonder in his gaze, looking up at the tall Marquis for baffled moment as if he'd forgotten to keep an eye on one of his kin. Then he purses his lips, and shakes his head to himself.
(OOC) Margot says: brb phone
The lantern too, is passed from Jaenelle's hands to those of a nearby servant and moved to a better place throughout the party that it probably should have been in the first place. "I think it is the danger, the suspense, the need for adventures, that causes those who enjoy observing attractive and charming people beat eachother with sharp implements to watch with interest to see who the victor might be. War is messy, tramtic, it is not pretty or elegant. But an honorable match between two skilled men can be. Perhaps that is what the ladies here were implying?"
Isolde blinks at Kieran, actually misstepping a bit, catching herself just before she tramples all over his feet. "You... have to be kidding with me. You cannot possibly be that obessesd with wild animals, a specific wild animal, in fact, to find all of your trouble with such... singular mindsets. And there cannot possibly be -that many bears- in the North. You are teasing me, Prince Kieran, and that is entirely rude to do in one's own garden." She looks confused, and perhaps a little... unnerved by the thought of... "Bear tipping?" She murmurs, just sort of staring, horrified.
Luca holds out a hand to Gustave for shaking or clasping or smacking, whatever. "Ah. Luca Velanosa. It's a pleasure. Did you say Blackram?" He nods approval.
"Quite certain, Lady Calista." Harlan says, smiling and then sketching a bow. "Good to meet you, I am Lord Harlan Ashford, Heir to Ashford Keep. Yes, I am somewhat newly arrived here. I've come to represent my house and to lend what support I may to House Grayson. Tell me, are all... gatherings... so large as of late?" There's a bit of resignation in his voice. Deciding to change the subject... "Tor? I have never been there, but I have heard you have wonderful gardens there. Is this true?"
"Excellent," Valencia tells Niccolo. "You will send this person who knows a playwright to me, and we shall fill the stage with mummers and the audience with paying customers. Nevermind the Marquise Blackram," she says, teasingly dismissing the gigantic man. "The play would be far too short if they simply killed one another off. Where's the fun in that? A slow, comedic agony - that'll keep people entertained," she says with confidence. "Rest well, Uncle. And if those merchants from Lenosia are peddling wine - be sure to send samples to the Redrain Villa," she laughs, settling back on her bench.
Esera turns the bracelet she wears, and then slips it from her wrist entirely. She passes it to a servant, with a whispered message.
"But Princess Valencia most certainly said that all bear-wrestling feats had to come alongside a marriage, which is why I couldn't request the best bear-wrestlers to come perform," Ophelia laments towards Nadia and Deva both, after a few slow blinks. "Does that mean you aren't getting married? We are, at least going to have bear wrestling, right?" A sympathetic smile is cast up towards Niccolo, given after a heady sigh, "I swear that wine only makes meetings go more smoothly, Uncle, but as you were then. Sweet dreams?"
(OOC) Margot says: back sorry
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Gustave before departing.
"Wine is their trade, how did you know?" Niccolo asks Valencia with some amusement. "I'll make sure to send this person to you, my Valencia," he says to her with an incline of his head, turning to Ophelia. "It does make meetings go more smoothly, thus why is necessary to keep it flowing. Sweet dreams to you too, Ophelia," he says with a faint smile.

"Gods be with you this evening, all," Niccolo then says as a general farewell to those in the vicinity, before he returns to his path back into the estate.
Niccolo is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall.
Still, Bliss continues to keep up with her dance partner, grinning as he seems to take it nearly as a competition. While she keeps up magnificently, she is careful and gracious enough to now show up Talen with her steps. Dancing is a partnership, after all. Indeed, even as he starts to slip behind, she shifts her efforts into trying to help him along. "It's not so different in some ways. A lot more bores, though," Bliss laments, rolling her eyes shamelessly, "I don't pay most rules and expectations much mind."
Calista dips into a very poised and practiced curtsey in return. "Lord Harlan Ashford, a pleasure and an honor to make your acquaintance!" Her voice is not usually this loud but given the amount of people and the music, that sweet melodic tone rises above the noise to reach the tall man's ears. "More recently, yes. I've only been living in Arx for a short amount of time but many things have happened as I'm sure you are aware of. It is a sign of good faith to have lively soiree's. Oh, that reminds me, I am hosting a tournament in the next few days. You should totally come!" Calista swishes those skirts just a bit to bypass others as they walk around. Faint slits show off a touch of flesh here and there. This ensemble is not nearly as scandalous as others she owns. "You shall have to meet Prince Barric Greyson. He's quite lovely."
Rohkir collects his weapon, pressing it back into place against his back and buckling it firmly. For the most part, he just idly watches over the Rains and relaxes on the bench, far from the hubbub.
"They call us Bears for a reason," Kieran answer Isolde without breaking his fascade of seriousness. Then a small smirk slowly overtakes his lips. "Yes, I am teasing you. We don't wrestle bears out of season, as that would be improper. Everything else, though, is true." He gives her a wink and lifts her hand again to twirl her. "And what do you do for fun down South?"
"A tournament? What sort of tournament?" The question's asked with a slight raising of Harlan's eyebrows. "If it's jousting or swordplay, I'm afraid you're asking the wrong man. There's no need of that sort of knightly business where I'm from. If there's any archery, well, I might be willing to take a few shots at a target. Though, I'm a little out of practice." He smiles, his emerald eyes glinting in the lamp light. "Come, let us walk around a little. You can tell me about other people I should meet as Prince Barric is already someone I'm planning on having a chat with soon."
Isolde twirls a little bit and then returns to the original position. "Bless your heart, that is so... charming." Her voice holds a bit of wonder and more than a little uncertain about the whole concept. "We mostly dance with people that make fun of us and position them to get stabbed in the back by watchful assassins." She looks at him with a straight face, before pointedly glancing over his shoulder.
Gustave listens quietly, patiently as he parses out the various arguments and thoughts. Fingers steepled as he shrugs. "But thats...wrong." A sigh as he takes a sip of wine. "Maybe its a cultural thing. Back home, we don't duel. The only thing that causes violence between knights among us is the killing or maiming of ones kin through deliberate failure or negligence. In which case you take him out into the street with your brothers and your kin and you kick him to death, usually with the other families blessing. Theres no comedy or art in it." A cough before he shakes his head and looks over at Luca. "Just so, we rule the March of the Stoneburner Hills under Duke Telmar."
"All this talk of bear wrestling," Valencia says, waving imperiously at a passing server in order to have her glass refilled once again, the amount of wine imbibed at this point somewhat alarming. "You all might as well just go ahead and do it. Plenty of bears about," she points out before taking a dainty sip.
"I imagine you have quite the arsenal to get away from all that heat, so it works quite well," Talen allows, listening to the motions of Bliss' body, each step triggering his to follow before he copycats in lead on the next turn and twist. When the pace begins to cease increasing in difficulty he finds himself looking around briefly, scanning the room and studying the whereabouts of many, primarily Esera, before he's satisfied to continue. "I have noticed the bores," he concludes simply, "but House Velenosa has arrived in force... expect a great deal more gatherings with true Lycene content once more. Enjoy the return to your heritage," he insists, a crooked smile daring grace his lips in brief before he applies pressure to quicken into the next, fast-paced phase of the dance. When Bliss outstrips him with ease, his intake of breath is thoughtful. "You're quite the prime example of your profession, no? You have my admiration, not that you were doubting you'd get it, hm?"
Valencia glances over in Harlan's direction quite suddenly, as if perhaps bidden to do so. Her dark eyes study him for a moment, her expression thoughtful.
Jaenelle's job is done? Gustave is no longer acting as a servant but as a guest who is socializing with other guests. Even though that conversation seems depressing. She slips away from the man and continues to move across the grounds, exchanging her empty glass for a new one as she goes.
Hadrian brings his motions with Margot to a halt, bowing over her hand with the slightest touch of his lips. "Odd traditions, careful upbringing, and an eager nature," he answers. "Thank you for the dance, Lady Margot." He takes a step back, then moves to Esera at the side of the dance floor.

The Duke Malvici raises his hand to take Esera's, but asks, "Do you wish dance or speech or perhaps both, your grace? I place myself at your disposal."
Kieran grins at Isolde and shakes his head, "Make fun of you? No, I am making fun of me and my people." As she looks behind him, he asks, "Do I need to step a little to the right or left to help with their aim? How skilled are they? I don't want to end up maimed for life rather than dead." He laughs a bit more at their banter, before adding, "Our fun involves hunting, telling stories, drinking excessively, and, for me, playing pranks on others." He slowly glances over his shoulder, "They are certainly taking their time. They could have saved so many of your toes by now..."
Nadia trails Valencia's dark gaze toward Harlan after a moment, her brows lifted curiously. She takes in his appearance at length before lifting her glass, motioning a servant to top her off with more white wine.
Luca leans back to take in Gustave again. "Kicking a man to death seems rather final. How do you expect anyone to learn a lesson if they are dead?"
"Archery you say?" Calista's face lights up with intrigue. "Of course there will be some archery, some jousting. I have entertainers who dance with fire and walk across fire. It's going to be spectacular!" The young woman brazenly takes the stranger's arm and leads him in a particular direction; She walks him right through the middle of the dance floor where they certainly come across dancers, Talen, Bliss, Hadrian, Margot...if they're still dancing and accidentally bumping into them as they move about. "All of these people here, they are all good people. You should meet them." However as there is dancing, surely Calista is squished a bit causing her to squeal and laugh.
"I promised you a dance," Esera answers Hadrian, as she takes his hand, formally, in her own. "House Velenosa keeps its promises." She nods her head towards the dance floor, and then draws him that way with a soft pull of her hand.
Deva wiggles her fingers at all those present at the benches, except one finger is pointed dangerously at Luca. Her smile doesn't falter, though, and she wanders off the grounds to excuse herself for the evening.
"Shoot them in the kneecap instead," Ophelia absently opines towards Luca, her hand stretching out to procure another fresher goblet of wine to which she promptly drains in one gulp. Although she too has dark eyes set upon Harlan in the distance, she comments aside towards Valencia and Nadia, crisply, "He can't be better than me."
Margot nods as the dance ends and offers a shallow curtsey to Hadrian, "And thank you as well your Lordship." She smiles and turns her head to see Calista, offering her a warm smile as she heads off the dance floor in search of a drink.
Deva has left the benches by the fountain.
Rohkir very clearly, finally gives in and waves down one of the various servants and shares a quiet word with the smaller person, who departs and comes back, drink in tow. He reaches out, plucking it from the servant's hands and taking a drink. He makes a face, as if surprised by the taste.
"Killing someone isn't a lesson for the one who dies, but for the ones you let live," Valencia muses in response to Luca's query. Shifting her attention away from Harlan, she leans in to murmur words for Vercyn's ear only.
Isolde laughs richly, her gaze turning back to Kieran. "Oh, you needent worry about that, darling. You'd be fine. You wouldn't feel a thing, unless I deemed it necessary. You have earned my mercy this night, however." She nods and listens, considering. "Valencia tells me that your history is told through your stories. I can only imagine how wonderous that must be. Are all Northerners exquisite storytellers?" She shakes her head slightly. "In the South, when we are not playing the Great Game, we love our beautiful things. This garden is a mere shadow compared to the ones in Lenosia. We throw parties as frequently as we dine, and, of course, we love our champions and their. But, all of it, truly, is part of the Game. The intrigues, the social nuance, the dance of peers and lessers. Even our love of fashion stems from the Great Game."
Deva is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Reflection Square.
"Sounds lovely," Bliss answers back to Talen, though she seems slightly distracted in thought. Her own gaze scans the crowd occasionally, as well. Her steps are almost rote, now, following along with Talen and letting him lead. "I also sing," she answers him thoughtlessly, before catching herself and giving him a wicked grin, "I'm very good at what I do. Best you'll ever meet, surely."
"What is the purpose of walking and dancing with fire?" Harlan asks, frowning. "Fire is... something to be careful with and not toyed with in the forests." With his attention so clearly on those directly around him and on Calista, he fails to notice any other attention he might be attracting. "So there's going to be an archery competition at your tournament? Interesting. I might have to practice tomorrow." A note of excitement creeps into his voice at the talk of archery.
Nadia finishes off her wine with graceful ease, then sets it aside. "Of course not," she indulges Ophelia. "But, I would be dishonest if I said I wasn't interested in seeing how smoothly you wield your bow, Your Highness. Perhaps some time you could give me a demonstration? I've been meaning to pick up something new on the side now that I've effectively immersed myself in the resplidence of the city instead of leading my men."
"Though the wine is amazing, perhaps you would prefer something stronger, whiskey perhaps?" Jaenelle asks Rohkir as she notes the face made after he downs the cup. "Or perhaps that was the whiskey, and you should certainly try the wine." She moves closer, wiggling her own glass even as she sits beside him without invitation.
Gustave listens to Luca and nods in thought. "It is perhaps a savage tradition, but it is not one we indulge in often. The point I was making is that violence is our last, and total, resort. Dueling is not something we understand. Well, my daughter might, but then she is quite taken with the romanticism of it all." A raise of glass to Valencia's point. "Just so, but like I said, a misunderstanding of culture." Raising and looking about the vast morass of people. "Sigrun will be sad she could not attend, but no doubt I shall have to remember every dress, every whisper."
(OOC) Margot snugs all nini!
Vercyn moves off the bench and offers a hand to Valencia, inclining his head politely towards her as he grins wolfishly, "Your highness, would you care to dance? It was just a wonderful idea that occured to me."
"So humble, too," Talen accuses with sarcasm thickly dripping from his voice, returning Bliss to him and then moving away himself, symmetry of the dance and equality. When it finally comes to a conclusion he pauses, remaining in contact and bows. The hinge of his waist is easily oiled, as if he can do it with such grace it means very little in expense of energy. "That was a delightfully challenging dance and one I enjoyed very much, as rare as that is. Perhaps next time I shall pick a more traditional dance from the south, if I am ever so lucky to see you at an event as this again. Now, might I send you off to mingle with those of better blood than I? I should excuse myself," he confesses.
Vercyn has left the benches by the fountain.
"So you did," Hadrian acknowledges, "But a gentleman should not take offense, if a promise were merely delayed." He walks with Esera to the dance floor. His smile splits his features, showing more white teeth and eagerness. "It is to my liking that this one need not be." He listens to the music for a few beats, brings his hand to the Grand Duchess's side, takes her hand, and transfers his weight to his left to show where they are pushing off from. Then off into the vigorous part of the steps they go, covering more ground as there seem to be fewer to worry about sharing their space with.
Margot is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Lyceum Gate.
"Sigrun is your daughter, then?" Luca asks Gustave, with a faint smile for his words. "But even if violence is a last resort, is not a duel between two men better for all parties than a duel between two hundred?"
Jaenelle has joined the garden benches.
Rohkir motions to Jaenelle and then says to the servant. "You heard her. Whiskey. I feel I faintly remember another Rain mentioning it. I'll have some of that instead." He doesn't seem terribly worried, but he motions to the bench next to him in invitation even before she sits.
Finally making it across the dance floor, Calista stops Harlan in his tracks as she sets about to see who is no dancing. "fire dancing, walking on fire, no I imagine they would not be ideal in a forest but for showmanship, for entertainment, surely you'll need to witness it for yourself. There's training and discipline and.." The woman pauses and gestures to Jaenelle. "There is Princess Jaenelle Velenosa." And naturally she gestures to a few more people. "It appears the hostess, Archduchess Esera is dancing as well." Her own emerald gaze rises and captures Harlan's for a moment before she rises onto her toes to whispers something to him.
"Oh? Are you a gentleman?" Esera asks Hadrian, as much a dare as a question -- and then she is swept up in the rush and the vigor of the dance. She laughs, and though there was indication enough that they'd be off to a swift start, she nevertheless looks surprised by it.
"I'll give you a demonstration promptly if someone is able to properly fetch my bow?" The absence of Ophelia's weaponry is acknowledged after a few doleful looks cast in the direction of one of the attired guards to the side, her hand splayed outwards with clear expectance. The denial of such has her lips trembling somewhat, but the unspoken issue seems to have been beaten prior and after a quiet huff, it's no longer pressed. "I'll give you a demonstration soon, Duchess," she corrects with a suffering exhale, "But are you truly interested? Does that mean you'd also come with my Uncle, Talen and Luca on a trip?"
Jaenelle lifts up two fingers towards the same servant, "make that two." While they wait, she turns her body slightly more towards the bigger man, dipping her head to hear his words.
"I never claimed to be particularly full of humility, no," Bliss crinkles her nose at Talen, all smiles and completely unbothered. She steps forward as she's drawn in, giving a nod. She gives a curtsy in return at the ending of the dance. "I'm a Whisper, darling. You'll see me at all the events such as this, or else I'm slacking off," she passes a wink to the man at that, releasing the hand, "It was a pleasure."
Luca glances up at Ophelia, and the stars beyond her. "Hm? Am I going hunting with you, still? You have all these volunteers." That is to his sister. "Ah, but I can go. I don't mind. Don't forget to invite Princess Deva." That is said to the stars, but probably also meant for his sister.
(OOC) Talen says: Thank you for the event, Esera. I'd love to stay and mingle more but it's super late. BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY.
Talen has left the game.
"Oh, well it's a a weigh off of my shoulder knowing my death will be over quickly then," Kieran replies to Isolde with a look of feigned relief, before he raises his eyebrows at what she describes. "Oh? While I like games, that sounds a bit exhausting after all. I assume you cannot take a break now and then since that would leave an opening for someone else still playing. Maybe you have agreed upon time-outs every now and then." He shifts a bit as Calista dn Harlan move through the dance floor, causing him to bump into Isolde. "My apologies, Your Highness. My poor dancing skills and this low light have finally caught up with me it seems."
Nadia rises from her seat that is the Duchy of Sidelines. "Of course," she affirms to Ophelia, her lips curling with faint amusement at the princess's ever-expressive features. "You'd only have to send a messenger with the details, and I'll come along. I haven't been on a good hunt in /months/." The duchess's excitement is almost palpable at the thought. "Prince Rohkir and I were only just talking about something similiar when we first arrived. But, please excuse me, I've a mountain of reports to sort through. It was a pleasure meeting you, Your Highness. Prince Luca," she says with reluctant partings, disappearing into the crowd at the urgent beckoning a messenger.
Hadrian only answers Esera after a successfuly circuit of the floor: "No, your grace, but I play one at the theater." A bout of twirling, separation, circling, and coming back into a close connection once more, with his hand at the small of her back and his left hand held palm against her palm, and he leads the transition into less athletic steps, speaking softly.
Gustave nods. "Seven years and some months. The star in my sky." He says toward Luca before be considers. "Perhaps for others, but not for us. It all goes back to how we fight, how we live. The quarry, the pasture, the square of pike and infantry. The single man, even the noble, accomplishes little. He stands atop the shoulders of his knights, his men at arms, his vassals. There is no honor or justice for the single man. The family that administers the sentence must be mollified as a whole. The family whose knight or soldier did wrong takes his shame as a whole. It may sound strange or cruel, but it is our strength. No man fights, works, or sins alone."
(OOC) Nadia says: Thanks for the event, Esera! It's super late for me, too!
Nadia is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of House Redrain - The Spirits - Renowned Room #2.
Nadia has left the benches by the fountain.
Isolde laughs gently and she shakes her head, compensating after the bump. "Well, for one skilled at the game, you learn to work in breaks in your moves. But, I find it all enjoyable, so I do not mind. You learn who the good players are and align yourselves with them, and it's relaxing often." She nods once. "It's a different life than the North, I imagine." She looks at Kieran and, for a moment, she is cold. "I am, however, quite done with this dance. Hopefully we can arrange a tutor for you, so you can find your footing and movements more sure, hm?"
Rohkir speaks lowly to Jaenelle, aside, from across the way.
Kieran has left the game.
Kieran has entered the game.
"Until you're wed and defending a wife, you must defend me," Ophelia explains towards Luca with full simplicity, adjusting her skirts to promptly sit down beside him upon the grass and lean against his form without asking. "You don't need to be a hunter to do that, Luca, you just need to be my brother." Her dimples shine through for that quick smile, before she looks to Gustave at his words, "That is exceedingly poetic. I'm afraid I was distracted by the taste of competition and the talk of hunting by those I haven't met, so I might have missed part of this conversation. You're not speaking poorly of the tradition of duels though, are you?"
Esera follows Hadrian's lead, each twirl matched in kind. As the party slows, so does the music -- and so does their dance, to something entirely more serene. Esera's lips move; she can be seen to murmur.
"Perhaps, though it doesn't sound very entertaining to me." Harlan admits with a slight shrug. "I'll reserve judgment for now though." He follows Calista's gaze as she points out several people, nodding along as he tries to put names to faces. Her whispered words have him rubbing his jaw in thought. "Hmm. You know, I'd offer to climb something if I was wearing something a little more appropriate or had more to drink. At least I would if it wasn't starting to get late. Remember, I have to practice tomorrow for your tournament."
Esera has left the game.
Kieran listens intently to what Isolde says, nodding as she explains how the game works. "I guess one has to grow up in it to fully appreciate it. Though, I suspect the North is the same way." As she steps away, he grins and nods, "Well, I did warn you that I replace my lessons with troublemaking. Sore feet were bound to happen." He scans the room for a moment, noting that many of his fellow Northerners have slipped out. "It seems a good place to end the dance as well. I thank you for a lovely evening. Take care, Your Highness."
Esera has entered the game.
Luca accomodates Ophelia with his usual tolerance. "You're talking about hunting, it's like kicking in Isolde's door with an axe in your hands and saying I should protect you from her." He nods, though, up at Gustave. "He's not speaking ill of it so much as saying it isn't for him. I suppose if nothing but bloodshed makes you feel better, that makes sense.
(OOC) Kieran follows the other tired Northerners out and foes to bed. Thanks for the scene!
Isolde leans in and whispers something, with a cold expression on her face, then straightens again. "May your Reflection meet you in the Mirror, Prince Kieran." She turns without another word, stalking away.
(OOC) Kieran says: goes even
And Champion Bliss Whisper finds herself alone, looking a bit bored without a dance partner to entertain her presently. She gives a thoughtful look over the dwindling crowds, considering options. Or so it seems, anyway.
Calista steps slightly to the side and places a hand upon her jutted hip. She gives Harlan a sassy look, drinking him in under the dim lighting of the Velenosa grounds. "That is good. I like a challenge, my lord." The woman presses her lips together into a smirk. "As for climbing, I am thoroughly intrigued, but only if you'll teach me. I'm not sure if you're aware but our Southern wines are the best in all of Arvum. You can drink all night and never wake to a hangover." True fact. Maybe. The flash of something flickering off a mirror captures Calista's attention and she lifts her hand to wave over at Isolde now. "I hope she isn't leaving. If there is anyone you should meet tonight, besides her grace, is it Princess Isolde Velenosa."
Rohkir continues speaking in low tones at the bench, now with a bottle of whiskey in hand, and a pair of shotglasses thanks to a helpful servant.
Hadrian shakes his head slightly as his and Esera's hands push together, separating them for a few moments as they each sidestep to stay across from each other. He is smiling more sharply by the time they resume their frame in closed position. His eyebrows match his lips as he speaks quietly.
Kieran is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of House Redrain - Redrain Villa - Bear Bedroom.
Isolde shakes her head to clear it and takes a glass of wine from a passing server, draining it in one go. She takes another and the lets out a slow breath, looking around the party once more. She spies Calista, a smile returning to her face at once. She moves over, pausing by Bliss to link her arm with the woman and bring her along without warning. "Calista, my darling, I am glad to see you. It has been too long. This is Mistress Bliss, who is utterly charming and will get along with us splendidly. Who is your companion?" She looks over Harlan, her mirrormask reflecting the moon, her smile warm and charming beneath it.
Gustave rolls his shoulders, looking toward Ophelia with a chuckle. "We don't have that tradition, is all I'm saying. Too much work to be done, too many places on the border to defend. Little time or inclination to fight each other unless a man is known to have done wrong and all other options have been misunderstand in that violence is the last, and final punishment. Plenty of time for talk and fine and compensation before. A man is now allowed to deprive another family of a fighter or his arm unless there is certainty that the perpetrator has wronged the whole of his family irreperably. Plenty of violence without to stab each other within for casual matters. But I do not believe I know your sister by name, though I'm told you can hear her bowstring all the way to Redrain."
(OOC) Gustave says: Argh, should be looking toward Luca. Insert a shift towards Ophelia at some point.
(OOC) Luca says: We're in kind of a puddle, anyway. If i understand spatial positioning.
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Luca before departing.
Jaenelle takes the shot of whiskey from Rohkir's hand, wrinkling her nose before commenting on something he said.
One of Bliss's many talents remains rolling with it. She links her arm in turn with Isolde, letting herself be taken along with a bright smile. "Lovely to see you again, your highness," she offers briefly as they travel. She attempts to withdraw her arm for a curtsy towards Calista and Harlan, "Lovely to meet you." She lingers near the Princess still.
"So that's what they mean when they say you southern women have spirit." Harlan says, laughing, taking in Calista and her look. "Let me tell you, Lady Calista, if you want to learn that particular skill, you also need to dress in something else, otherwise you're apt to get scrapes and cuts all over, but sure, I'm sure we can work something out." His eyes follow hers and he takes in Isolde and Bliss as they approach. Bowing to Isolde, he gives her mask a long look. "Your Highness, I am Harlan Ashford, Heir to Ashford Keep. A pleasure to meet you and you as well, Mistress Bliss."
"You might be protecting me from myself then. It isn't as if it's truly so far off, is it?" Ophelia's shared grin is brighter, paired with the sedate nudge of her shoulder as she picks absently at the edge of her gown with her full weight then placed against her brother's form. "Forgive me then, for intruding," she dips her head towards Gustave, extending more cordially with a hint of a wince upon her features, "I get a touch defensive when it comes to family. It wasn't trying to be rude and prying, even if I undoubtedly was. On occasion, duels provide that air of inclusion that otherwise some people, like me, might lack. What you speak of though sounds brutal, but real, given with true thought. But forgive me, I'm Princess Ophelia Velenosa, Most Thoughtful Marquis. I had heard that you were quite a man of manners and mind alike, and I see that wasn't wrong. I'd stand, but I'm terribly-terribly comfortable and I don't think climbing off the grass will make me look more prestigious. Excuse me this time?" The compliment of her archery, naturally, earns a delighted flush to her cheeks.
Rohkir speaks again, a low laugh escaping.
Calista positively glows around Isolde and when the mirrormask joins them, the Fidante steps in to air kiss each cheek. "Princess, I know, forgive me for being so busy with nonsense. Truly nonsense. I am happy to run into you at your sister's event. It's breath-taking. I am in awe of the decorations and the food..oh yes and the drinks." Her own emerald gaze now shifts towards Harlan who does his own introductions. "I was mentioning how exquisite our wines are; you can drink to your hearts delight and never a hangover." Bliss now is greeted with the same enthusiasm as Isolde. "Mistress Bliss, a pleasure to meet you. I am Lady Calista Fidante." Now, she hasn't forgotten the comment about clothing when she replies to Harlan, "I think I have something that might satisfy these physical pursuits you speak of, even if I am partial to my silks."
Esera slows, near the edge of the pool. She stretches out one leg, to catch Hadrian's ankle against the curve of her foot. The water glitters beneath the moonlight, just beside them. She murmurs to Hadrian.
Isolde doesn't seem off-put by Harlan's skeptical look at her mask and she simply keeps her genuine smile beaming. "Truly an honor to meet you, Lord Harlan. We are improved by your presense. Have you been in Arx for very long? I am surprised I haven't met you before now." She nods and grins to Bliss. "You are a delight. Just what I needed after... whatever happened on the dance floor." She shakes her head and kisses Calista's cheek, rather than air kiss it. "There is nothing to forgive, darling. I hope you have been keeping yoruself entertained at the very least?"
(OOC) Isolde says: BRB!
"I am surprised you have heard of me at all. We are a somewhat rustic folk, I am told, though apparently our reputation proceeds us." His great hands folding as Gustave rolls his shoulders. The servants garb not exactly the best fit, but probably better than traipsing about in armor all day. "There is no need to apologiz, and I would never ask a lady to inconvenience herself." Utmost sincerity as he has his wineglass freshened. "Marquis Gustave Blackram, My Lady. Would that Shavs were songbirds, that I could lure you to my front line and put a bit of spirit into my skirmish line."
Luca slips away from his sister, leaving a hand behind to steady her as she corrects for the absence, and climbs to his feet. "Be careful with this one." The warning is given to Gustave, not Ophelia. Luca nods at those unavoidably near to him, and then ambles off towards the estate.
Luca has left the benches by the fountain.
Bliss gives a pleasant nod to each as they introduce themselves, having already given her own introduction and pleasantries. "If you would like to try again before the evening is out, your highness, I'm sure I could see the poor memory erased in favor of a better one," the Whisper coos to princess Isolde. Then her attention returns to Harlan and Calista, "It truly is lovely." She repeats herself, but it seems she finds it worth repeating.
"You entranced Princess Alarissa enough that she spoke novels about you," Ophelia explains towards Gustave, a bit of laughter slipping free when she shrugs her shoulders innocently and continues, "I was looking for the largest men to which to provoke into a fight with my brother at the time, for-- oh, well, good intentions. You were named, I'm afraid." She looks up towards Luca upon his departure, her hand lifted in a fond farewell, before turning back to Gustave. "Honestly, were I allowed, I wouldn't be that hard to lure. But I promised Luca that I wouldn't shoot anyone that didn't deserve it, after a couple of accidents where people stepped in front of my-- Oh. Nevermind. How do you like your wine?"
(OOC) Isolde says: Back!
(OOC) Calista says: WB.
"Relatively recently arrived, Highness. The news of what transpired reached Ashford Keep, and as voice of House Ashford, allow me to extend condolences from my father to your family for your loss." Harlan smiles, gesturing towards Calista. "Lady Calista here was kind enough to point out a few people I should meet and inform me of the tournament she's putting on. It sounds like it should be fun, though all I can really do is fire a few arrows at a target." He glances over at Calista, laughing. "Oh, if you are stubborn enough to try and climb in silks, I would certainly like to see it."
(OOC) Luca says: This was great, and long. Goodnight!
Luca is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Chastity Bedroom.
"Indeed it is. I fear, however, I am going to have to retire. I'm suddenly extremely fatigued. It was delightful to meet you, Lord Harlan. Calista, darling, we will catch up soon, yes? And Mistress Bliss, we still have business to discuss and plesanttries to exchange." Isolde nods and dips her head. "Pardon my abruptness, bu the evening has gotten to me." She turns and she fades away into the manor.
(OOC) Isolde says: Sorry, I'm suddenly feeling super wretched. I think I need sleep.
(OOC) Ophelia says: Feel better, Isolde.
(OOC) Bliss says: aww, feel better
Isolde is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Kindness Bedroom.
Rohkir chats amiably with Jaenelle a bit out of the way, taking another shot.
Vercyn smiles apologetically as he moves away from the bench and bows to the rest of the nobility, "A wonderful party by House Velenosa, thank you again for all of your hospitality, and to all of you a good night."
(OOC) Vercyn says: Night everyone!
Vercyn is leaving Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Grounds, heading for Arx - Ward of House Redrain - The Spirits - Renowned Room #1.
Gustave seems to turn a visible shade of pale at notions of being mentioned, the groan palpable. "Well then, I'll try to be less...entrancing." This all sounds terribly complicated. But still, he does his time. Sigrun had said after all, spend at least twenty minutes talking to a woman, an hour with your peers. Perhaps he would rather be serving or running around with a torch? "I seem to fit the bill of largest thing worth challenging to a great many people." He admits dryly in between sips of wine. "Waste of a perfectly good bow, in my opinion. If you hunt, if that is what you do, it does not matter whether it is beasts or those who threaten home or hearth. Accidents do happen in the honing of a weapon." A shrug as he looks at the glass. "It suits well enough. A bit light given my stature, but that is not so bad."
Ankle caught, Hadrian ceases moving, nodding once to Esera without abandoning his grip. "Every land has its own preferred methods, your grace. I hope you succeed-" He finishes more softly, then raises her hand, touches her fingers to his lips and says, "Thank you for the pleasure, your grace."
"The mere presence of your company should suffice, Lord Harlan, but as you are an archer, I invite you to show off some of your skills. I did catch a few others looking your way earlier. It would be the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to the masses." Calista brims with excitement and when a server passes with wine, she pivots on her foot and swivels around capturing two glasses at first and asking the server to bring more wine for Bliss. "No need to apologize Princess Isolde. Do feel better. We shall catch up soon." Left in the company of Bliss and Harlan, the young woman continues her conversation about fashion. "Mistress Bliss, have you ever been climbing? I can tell you both I have done a bit of climbing because my home in Tor is built like a citadel. I have never done much climbing in silks. It's not practical and I would hate to ruin them. Also, I cannot afford to have major scrapes and bruises. My skin would be flawed and would look hideous in the fashions I enjoy wearing. But, put me in something tight and leather and we've got a deal."
"Do please-please befriend my brother and tell him that exact same thing. If you can manage to change his mind as what I am allowed to hunt, you will find that I will owe you a debt, I think. Not that I'd go ... outlandish in where my bows would go, but sometimes even I crave a little challenge." Ophelia's dark eyes had studied Gustave so intently through his words that her wine had remained untouched through the whole thing. As her dimpled smile spreads, the Princess slowly pushes herself up from her grass-seated arrangement with only a few stains hardly visible within the shadows in the gardens. Curtseying before him with a practiced poise, she relates, "It was a surprise and a pleasure to share words with you. You'll have to tell me more. I'm terribly afraid that I'm a touch antsy though and I need to roam." Winking at him, she straightens her gown passably and then states, "Blessings to you and yours."
Esera glances down at the pool, and temptation glitters in her eyes. As Hadrian raises her hand to his lips, though, she draws her foot back. "You honor me, Duke Hadrian," she says.
(OOC) Esera says: My bedtime is well, well past. I'm going to @cal/endevent and call it here. You don't have to go home but you can't stay here!
(OOC) Esera says: Just kidding. You can stay here.
(OOC) Esera says: But I'm going home.
(OOC) Calista says: Thank you, Esera!
(OOC) Hadrian says: Hold one second!
(OOC) Hadrian says: And thank you!
(OOC) Esera holds!
(OOC) Jaenelle says: I live here though!
And off the princess goes, with Bliss momentarily watching. "I look forward to such discussions," she offers pleasantly enough. Her attention, then, returns to those she was left with, presenting a smile to the pair. "I was born in Tor," she answers a bit brither towards Calista, "And yes, I've done my fair share of climbing. And nothing quite the shame like damaged silks, 'tis true." She gives a mournful nod at the very thought of such a thing. She spreads a grin, "I'm certain there's more than a few fine young men in town who would donate to such a cause as cladding you in this."
(OOC) Bliss says: Thanks <3
(OOC) Esera says: Do you???
(OOC) Esera says: Wait yes you do
(OOC) Hadrian slowly, reluctantly, lets go of Esera's hand.
(OOC) Hadrian says: Okay, you can go. Thank you.

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