Redreef Family New Year's
Will the family unite to seek out whoever this Mystery Cartoonist of Redreef Shores is and crush them like a bug? Or will they fall to pieces as they laugh at the cartoons of their relatives while trying to endure the laughter over their own likeness? And what's the content of these awful cartoons, anyway? The only way to find out for sure -- is to come to dinner.
Sept. 15, 2020, 8 p.m.
Arx - Ward of House Thrax - Redreef Estate - Main Hall
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The Redreef Estate's Main Hall has been arranged for festivities. The Baroness herself, the very Princess of Parties, presides at the head of a long table. The cuisine of the Isles is on display, served hot to make up for the winter chill outside. Likewise, the other thing keeping the snow away from people's bones is rum. Lots and lots of rum, trucked straight from Redreef Shores.
The thing is, the family might have opened up the rum before actually beginning the dinner. And 'might have' here means 'definitely did.' The Redreefs of Arx are a small family, but they can put away booze, and even the Baroness's handmaidens are helping themselves. This makes for a spirited, lively time, with a ravashari band hired to play music suitable for dancing, and skillful enough to quicken the pace into music suitable for throwing chairs around.
Ember pushes up out of her chair, bottle of rum in her good hand, having already drained a previous bottle unto herself. She's in good spirits, which is to say, she's not shouting at anyone at the moment. "Everyone! To 1014," the Baroness says, before pounding a swig of rum and looking around for those who might be nearest to her. "Where's Nimue? I need someone big enough to wrestle -- we need some feats of strength."
How can Ember drink so much and still remain festive instead of faced? Easy; having a second Ember around to soak up the overflow. That's one theory but it's an easily disproven one, since Marina has been drinking as well with the steady inevitability of sailing as a lifestyle as well as livelihood and tradition. Having sent her pet away to sleep it off since crows still lack for a certain something in body weight, she's mostly been plowing through her allotment of liquor in fairly subdued but active contemplation. And eating as well - there's plenty enough to keep her mouth busy that it's only the occasional moment for arguing things with cousins or anyone too close by her seat near the head of the table but not within Ember's range. "..and this is why hemp ropes are still preferable. It's not just the strength of the rope but the weight."
Finn the large Northern hunting dog with icy blue eyes, Rocco, the rascally assistant leave, following Thea.
One of these things is not like the others! And that would be Miraj, the sun-kissed young woman with snowy hair and crystalline blue eyes likely in the vicinity of the Baroness who is indulging in lots and lots of sparkling wine. She has at the very least, polished off two whole bottles by herself and her cheeks are flushed and she's effervescently giggly and cheerful when the Baroness calls for a drink on the new year. "To 1014!" Lifting her glass in the air, then polishing off the very last mouthfull she hiccups lightly.
Ember toasts with Miraj by basically punching her in the hand. She didn't really mean to, but her fine motor coordination is a bit drunk at the moment.
"Right. Where's my sister. Miraj! Have you met her yet? MARINA." Ember grabs Miraj by the elbow and pulls her toward her twin, not really caring if Miraj can, or wants to, keep up.
"Marina. This is my protege, Miraj. Miraj, do you know much about ropes and knots and that sort of thing--?" Ember doesn't seem to realize what she's asking.
"I'm sure you'll learn so much from Ember." Smiling widely, there is a little pull at one corner, the side of Marina's face - if ever having trouble telling the two apart, Marina is the one with a scar across her cheek - turned towards Miraj showing a brief wink. "No one's education is complete without understanding the finer points of starting, escalating, and decisively ending a blood feud." In Ember's honor, Marina raises her glass - then gives it a little waggle side to side to emphasize to her sister that it is nearing the very dregs, possibly even with a clearing of her throat so the point isn't lost on whatever layer of higher functions are still in operation. "But to be fair, she'll be a wonderful teacher. Even if her square knots look like worms fucking for the first time."
There's a confluence of inebriety, meeting precisely where Ember and Miraj's hands -- glasses? meet. Thankfully Miraj's glass was mostly empty, because the fine, delicate flute she was holding cracks and Miraj is left wide eyed and somewhat surprised for a moment and when Ember pulls her over to Marina, she takes the opportunity to offload the glass on a table she passes by. It wasn't hers, and no one saw her do a damn thing.
"Oh.. Knots? No! But my mother taught me a rhyme song that helps me remember how to tie bows!" Yes, you guessed it, she's going to sing it right here and right now. "Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree. Criss-crossed the tree, trying to catch me. Bunny ears, Bunny ears, jumped into the hole, popped out the other side beautiful and bold." She tries her hand at miming as she recites it, but that just makes her giggle again.
"Oh my goodness though you both DO look uncannily similar." She stares but only until it gets awkward. "Well I suppose worms have to learn somehow...?"
"Worms?" Ember leers, making an aggrieved face that might be exaggerated for comedy but also might just be drunken upset. The Baroness has a long pull of rum to drown her displeasure. "Who won the contest between us that one summer?" Ember is, of course, bringing up something from when the twins were eleven. "I tied six perfect knots in under a minute, you got stung by a bee and puffed up like fish left in the sun."
Ember looks to Miraj, and regards the song with great, terrible care. "...I can teach you better rhymes than that. But I probably learned half of them from her." Ember shakes her bottle at Marina, making a little bit spill out. "She's the one who had the copy of Brace Shortfin's Sea Shanty Songbook. Not the one they sell to kids. The original, the dirty version. One of our uncles had hid it away in the library when they were young."
Ember pounds another drink, and then, as one of her handmaidens approaches to murmur something in her ear, Ember grunts. "Absolutely filthy stuff."
Oh we're doing hand talking. Equally up to the task and following Miraj's lead, Marina either handles it better or even simulating knots is just that far ingrained - fingers waggle and weave together and yes, if one squints maybe the imagery of nematodes getting their nema-chodes on comes to mind. Or maybe it doesn't. "And that was what hers were like after three weeks; not the first try, not the 'almost got it, champ' attempt, but.." Shrugging, fingers slink away and unknot just as easily, picking her glass back up with a near-piratical flourish to finish away what little remains in one strong toss, "Six /overhand/ knots."
With her glass refilled now, there's a comic-opera mournful aspect to Marina while she repeats this outrageousness to Miraj specifically. "Overhand. Knots." Shaking her head with some regret, only a solid slug of rum is going to make it all better again, both hands holding her glass now to roll it between her palms, warming up the fresh pour even if it's near to sweltering with the fires going. "Horrific. I think, perhaps, we should blame it all on irresponsible shanties and the kind of lifestyle they promote."
"Oh dear," Miraj says with a laugh. "Brace Shortfin's Shanties are famous for their dirty versions, that's certainly true. I don't think I've read them yet but--" She nervously scratches her neck just under her ear. "Out of curiosity - the opposite of an overhand knot is an... underhand knot? They are... more difficult? How many kinds of knots are there? How many /could/ there be..." Bewildered. Absolutely bewildered.
Ember is briefly distracted by the handmaiden speaking to her. The handmaiden absolutely does not look happy -- in fact, she looks downright sober. She hands Ember a small paperback volume. A pamphlet, really. Ember's brow is already furrowed in the kind of annoyance that comes from being drunk and confused.
Ember opens the pamphlet, reads. Reads a bit more.
"Fucking-- GRRRAAAHHHHH!" Ember throws her half-full bottle to the ground, where it explodes. The ravashari band seems to pick up on the cue, and starts speeding up the tempo to turn their dancing son into a bar-fighting one.
"The opposite of an overhand is the square knot, or maybe the half-knot. It depends on what you're using it for." There's no sense of treating the question lightly; Marina is being helpful in introducing Miraj to the wide, wide, seemingly inexhaustible world of naval knots and the different configurations they come in. Just to a limited degree since she's keeping her glass in one hand and gesticulating with increasingly arcane motions to simulate the different types of rigging that're possible. "Most starting sailors should know the basic dozen, but experienced hands.." It's interrupted from going further by the bottles shattering, with Marina mildly curious at first - seems like more of a spring festival thing, to her - but some concern showing up when it seems like there's a physical, tangible cause, "Ember, dear, what's wrong?" She's trying for calming by way of nerve-deadened blandness; oh, of course bottles are being thrown, but what else?
She is listening intently and her gaze had just alighted upon Ember when the glass shatters and startles her so much she makes a very startled chicken sound. Thankfully, it was choked out by the band. "Yes, my Baroness - what's wrong?" Miraj flashes a look to the handmaiden that reads YOU COULDN'T WAIT HUH?
Mikani shows up late. Well one does when one has lots of small children. She enters just as the glass shatters. "Well I hope that isn't the good stuff." She teases in her usual fashion before seeing Ember's face. "Oh dear ... what's wrong?"
"Th-- This-- I'll-- Ghhg--" Ember is literally too angry to speak. The handmaiden gives Miraj a look somewhere between apology and 'if not now, when?'
Ember throws the pamphlet over at Marina, possibly intending for her to catch it. Naturally, those nearby might get a glimpse of a slim book titled 'The Nobility of Redreef.' Its author is listed as 'A Betrayed Citizen.'
Inside, the book is full of cartoons. Drawings that exaggerate the features and personalities of the noble family, and mock their histories. They unfold as two-page gags.
For example, one page has caricatures of Mikani and Baron Edward Stormbreak. Mikani is holding a dead man and weeping over him, and Edward is being left by one of his wives. The caption below reads: 'HOW COULD WE LOSE THEM?' The next page is Mikani and Edward, already wooing new spouses -- Mikani has dropped the dead body to lunge at a caricature of Lord Rysen Crovane, and Edward is prying the ring off of his ex-wife's finger to give to his new one. The caption: 'OH WELL -- ON TO THE NEXT ONES!'
Marina is depicted as a pirate at the helm of a ship, pointing out to sea: 'TO EURUS! WHAT STRANGE ADVENTURES I SEEK!' The next page is Marina, half-dressed, grinning lasciviously as she's fondled by six extremely racist Eurusi caricuatures. 'WHAT ADVENTURES INDEED!'
Ember herself is depicted in full armor, with a sword in each hand dripping with blood, and her head thrown back in an open-mouthed wail, while waterfalls rise from her eyes. She's drawn how one might draw a child throwing a tantrum. 'I CAN'T ABIDE THRALLDOM! IT MUST BE OUTLAWED!' The next page is Ember, still crying like a baby, as around her, Redreef Shores is being looted and ruined by freed thralls running amok; burning works of art, smashing up businesses, beating a child. 'WHY WON'T ANYONE PRAISE ME FOR ABOLISHING THRALLDOM?'
The real Ember is quite literally red in the face and possibly choking with rage.
Flicking the pamphlet out of the air, Marina sips from her rum while perusing it. The expression is mostly level, just with a very firm and dour looking set to her mouth and jawline which is two parts severity to one part repressed sniggering. But it's enough to look it over and nod to Ember, confirming her sister's worst fears; someone is attempting to be funny. Giving it a skittering toss onto the table with no more regard for the craftsmanship and artistry than it deserves, especially after she's comitted the choicer bits to memory, she helpfully offers her half-filled glass over to Ember to replace the bottle that she'd just drained onto the floor and carpets. "Some people have no restraint or taste, dear."
Mikani checked composure at difficulty 15, rolling 3 lower.
She leans over close to Marina, practically over her shoulder to take a gander at the pamphlet and her dark brows raise nearly up to her hairline in surprise. "Traditionalists." Miraj says with a sigh, "What are you going to do other than wedge your foot way, way up their arses?" Her gaze darts around and, finding an abandoned tankard of ale, she steals it to take a few quaffs. Then maybe a few more.
Mikani she tried to hold the laugh. She really did. So it came out as more of a snort. Then again this was all stuff she heard when she first married Rysen. Mikani could never do anything right by the voice of the people. She was an Ex-Thrall and Neo-Noble. Someone was bound to think she was messing up in some way. "That is a very interesting style choice." She says before clearing her throat and getting herself some rum. Her head nods at the cursed term Traditionalist is mentioned. "Her foot won't fit around their heads."
"Some people h-- Some PEOPLE are DISTRIBUTING this, around Redreef Shores!" Ember barks at Marina in a way that only family really gets to do; it's a combination of familiarity allowing for further boundaries and also probably easier forgiveness. With most things, anyway.
"I'll HAVE their heads," Ember roars, and the other parts of the party seem to be noticing the Princess of Parties throwing a tantrum. "They-- they DARE..."
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