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Thrax Family Dinner February 2021

The Thrax family dinner, open to family and friends to come, sit and eat, partake of the usual fare that they serve - sometimes still moving - and enjoy oneself.


Feb. 15, 2021, 8:30 p.m.

Hosted By



Sorrel Maren Natasha Victus Ian Medeia Zoey Jan Octavia Jaenelle Romulius



Arx - Ward of House Thrax - Thrax Estate - Dining Room

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Klavdiya, who is definitely a handmaiden and not a pirate, Fluffy, the wary wildcat, 2 Eswynd shieldbearers, Loryk, a cocky but amiable reaver arrive, following Medeia.

Octavian, a silken spaniel, Ruslana Stormshead, an aide in Kennex livery, 2 Kennex corsairs arrive, following Zoey.

3 Thrax Guards, 2 Thrax Elite Guards, Lady Teonia Redreef, Aryka Wyrmfang, Marquessa Pudding, a doughy dog, Zoey arrive, following Sorrel.

Now and then, the stars align, the waves calm and the household of Thrax can mostly be in the same room to dine. Or guests come on by. This is one such night, and the new table within the massive dining room of Thrax is a new addition. Servants and thralls mill about, serving the members of the household, filling glasses, and dodging cats. There's at least five of them in the dining room alone, under sideboards and under table or off in a corner. One particularly inky fluffy black one sits on a spot on high and watches everyone with green eyes. Already everyone was warned to just not touch any cat in the estate. Safer that way.

Shark, an admittedly small one, has been roasted and sits center on the table, some goat, fish dishes and islander delicacies. Something to tempt both mainlander and islander appetites. Rum, whiskey, wine and water, even tea on the tables. Alarissa's already seated at her usual spot to the right of the High Lord's seat, eyeing the large fish. Blessedly, there doesn't seem to be any live octopi splashing about anywhere.

Ashe, the studious Stormward paralegal, 2 Kennex corsairs arrive, following Octavia.

Leading the notably pregnant Lady Zoey to dinner, a regal escort, Princess Sorrel Thrax pauses to offer a sweeping bow with flourish to the High Lord and his bride, and cheerful smile on her face. "Princess-Consort, everything looks lovely for dinner tonight. Did you get my note about the kelp mead? I thought it might be nice to sample it, if there's interest," she says brightly as she leads Zoey to a chair and then seats herself.

Maren glides in with a soft step, her pace unhurried and her expression serene. The elder's bright blue eyes take everything in, though there is a somewhat dreamlike quality to her gaze, as if the present is overlaid with memory almost everywhere she looks. Her attention becomes more fully focused on the present as she notes the people, offering Alarissa a graceful curtsy, and a genuinely warm and affectionate smile as she offers a quiet, "Good evening, Princess-Consort Alarissa. It is lovely to see you again. I hope the children are hale and hearty." From the laughter in her eyes, it seems that she has very little doubt of that. It is a cup of tea that she claims, elegant fingers wrapping about the cup as if to absorb some of its warmth as she looks for a place to settle. Sorrel and Zoey receive a curtsy as well. "Princess Sorrel, Lady Zoey, I hope that you are both well."

As Alarissa takes up the seat in Victus' right-hand side, his sister, Natasha Thrax, is on her way to take her usual place on his left, but not without greeting those at the head of the table first. Dressed in a manner outside of her usual austere, high-necked styles in a visible and marked effort to please her sister in law by not just showing some collarbone but shoulders and back, much of the things that don her this evening are new gifts, the most prevalent of these being the beautiful delicate headdress that the Princess Consort has had made for her, wrought like a thin garland of autumn leaves and situated in such a way to hold thick chocolate curls in place. She drifts towards Alarissa's seat first, to press a quiet kiss on the air close to her cheek, and a soft murmur, before dark eyes lift to watch Sorrel move on past. "Kelp mead?" she wonders with a small lift of dark brows in interest and a smile offered to her green-eyed cousin-in-law. "How does it taste?"

There's a lot of relaxed posture from the Prince of Maelstrom tonight. Sat at the head of the table, slightly slumped against the cushioned seat. An ankle is drawn up to rest atop his knee. His attention rests on his hands, where he manipulates a blade next to an unopened oyster. The weather dagger bites into the edge of his snack and cracks its shell after some exertion. Though he doesn't eat just yet. Instead, the opened delicacy is set down, and another one picked up in its place.

Victus starts the process again. Methodically working his way through the second, of what was about a dozen of the hard shell treats set out in front of him. His snakeskin coat is draped over the back of his seat, leaving him in a mix of casual wool and black leathers. Hardly an ostentatious sight. His positioning was the only thing that gave away his actual station, as he's not dug very deep into the wardrobe at all for appearances sake.

Not leading his overly pregnant wife is Ian, who comes in on his own, a little while later, watching his own footsteps the way that he does, with that slightly not right mechanical gait. He pauses to nod to Victus and Alarissa in respectful acknowledgement before taking a seat beside Zoey, wherever that happens to be.

Morphius, the sad, gentle Mastiff leaves, following Decius.

This evening, Medeia has made her way across the ward to join those gathering in the Thrax dining room. She's left her cloak and her guards at the entrance, arriving in the dining room with her very large cat at her heels (it won't leave her side today for some reason), wearing a strapless duskweave gown and coral accessories. She sweeps an impressive - though not quite full - curtsy to Alarissa. "Your highness, thank you for opening your home and allowing me to join you." She dips her chin to Sorrel and Zoey as well, saying, "Princess Sorrel, it has been too long. Lady Zoey, I'm inclined to say the same." A hint of humor sparkles in the Eswynd lady's eyes as she says that last, as the two had seen each quite recently. When Natasha enters, she perks up and glides along to claim the seat on the other side of the Inquisitor, eyes landing on Victus. "Princess Natasha, would it be alright if I sat here this evening? High Lord Victus," Another impressive curtsy, this one accompanied by a faint blush, "Good evening, Lady Medeia Eswynd, it is a pleasure to /properly/ meet you."

Zoey curtseys to Alarissa and Victus, then grins at Sorrel as she settles in and takes in the spread. "Oh, yes! This looks wonderful," she agrees. She nods to Maren and replies, "I am indeed, and I hope the same for you. It has been a while." She greets Ian with a brief touch on his arm, Medeia gets a short, musical laugh, and she flutters her fingers in greeting to Natasha.

Jan strides into the hall at a brisk pace. Her sun burnt face is already a bit flush with some pre-dinner drinking but her steps are in line. Clad mostly in salt stained leathers, the only thing that gives the Kennex General away as anything more then a common soldier is her confidence. Well, confidence, Cartugan, both words that start with 'c'. She makes her formal greetings with a big sloppy grin and inappropriate anecdotes, unable to control her excitement at the overflowing liquor cabinet in the room.

Octavia isn't really a common sight at these sorts of dinners, but she's joined the Kennex family this time, just for the experience. Ever the social - uh, well butterfly is the wrong word. Architect maybe? - she offers precisely the required social pleasantries in greeting to Victus and Alarissa, then finds her way to a chair to sit down. "This should be an interesting experience," she muses mostly to herself.

"I'm radiant? Look at you." Alarissa looks to Natasha, the backless dress. 'You look divine dear sister." Those who curtsy are given a bow of her head back and she lights up at the arrival of maren. "Dear aunt. Oh this is a treat. I'm delighted." Sorrel though, brows raise. "Kelp mead. Is it made yet? I confess some hesitation as I don't quite know what to expect... do we have some?"

"I did make you a promise," Natasha replies to Alarissa with a smile, though there's a hint of embarrassment present at the iconic Princess Consort's compliment; it's a pleased look nonetheless, though she manages to refrain from preening - her face isn't made for it. Dark eyes fall on her brother and how he's started on the oysters already, her expression threatening to curve higher but doesn't quite. Instead, she dips him a formal curtsey in lieu of a spoken greeting, before she finally takes her place on the left side of him. "Chief Magistrate," she greets towards Octavia as she passes. "It's been far too long, I hope your schedule isn't so full that I'd be unable to see you within the next few days."

Settling on her seat, her pale face softens slightly at Medeia's appearance. "My lady Eswynd - not at all, of course you can sit next to me." Her gaze drifts along the table to account for the other faces, Zoey's wave prompting her own in turn. "My lady Kennex, it's good to see you again, also."

"I would not have thought to put kelp and honey together," Maren observes, though her tone is curious and open. "But there are a great many delicacies I have found that I probably would not have imagined that would be as good as they are, upon first hearing." She offers Alarissa her tender smile once more. "Zyanya is still on her travels; it is good to have the company of family this night while she is away." She does not interrupt Victus' shucking, though her smile towards him holds warmth as well as an undercurrent of amusement as well." As new names are mentioned the snow-haired woman's gaze lights on each face to take note, as well as a respectful bow of her head, before she takes a warming sip of her tea.

"Indeed, Lady Medeia. It is good that we can remedy that this evening," Sorrel agrees cheerfully, then nods to Alarissa. "Yes. There isn't much, but there's enough for everyone to sample. It's got a bit of a curious flavor, but I think it's rather delightful, and I shall have it called for. It's quite excellent for making one feel delightful; we're under the impression that the kelp has some healing properties." She then motions to a servant to have such called for.

"Healing properties?" Zoey asks, considering. She turns to Medeia. "A small taste should be safe at this point, right?"

"I believe my schedule is freeing up over the next few weeks, thanks to the additional magistrates," Octavia muses as she looks over to Natasha. "I'm certain that we'll find time to meet soon, Princess. I have your chains in the chest in my office; I'll have to give them to you next time we're both there. I'm also working on decorating an office in the Kay... That's something that's been sorely missing since I stepped down from the regency."

"You both... look nice." Victus intones toward Natasha and Alarissa shortly after their exchange. His vocabulary hasn't failed him today.

With a gracious smile, Medeia sits, murmuring, "Thank you, Princess Natasha." Ian and Jan get greetings as well before Sorrel's talk of potentially healing kelp mead draws her attention. "Hmm." Her interest has been piqued! A crease in her brow develops as she looks to Zoey. "What would you have done if your midwife wasn't present?" There's a soft laugh from the lady, before nodding. "/A/ sip."

"You both... look nice." Victus intones toward Natasha and Alarissa shortly after their exchange. His vocabulary hasn't failed him today. The third oyster falls under his blade. The dagger is turned 'round and stabbed into a cutting board, narrowly missing the sea creature's as of yet unclaimed brethren. With handkerchief in one hand, he starts wiping down his hands while cocking his head toward Maren. "Maren. Maren. Come here a moment." His hand scrubbing escalates till he's rubbing his palms raw, at which point he turns and bends over to pluck something from just beside his boots.

"This... is yours." When he pops back up over the edge, he's clutching a silver ring between his digits. Etched in the symbol of a curled serpent, and identical to the signets he wears alongside his wife and sister. "It's been yours, but I haven't had the chance to come by and give it to you. Don't lose it."

When addressed by Medeia, he gives a nod in her direction. "Lady Eswynd. The prodigal house has proven itself very capable." He snatches the handle of the knife again. Back to shucking.

Like a kid in a candy store, Jan admires the collection of alcohol accrued in this liquor cabinet. Although she can't help but give a few sniffs to some of the rarer stuff, she pries herself away finally and moves to take a seat with her cousins. She tips her head to Medeia, "See you got your appetite back. I'll be sure to save my stories for dessert." A little snicker as she eases into her chair, the wood groaning quietly in protest.

"Probably just imagine Lady Eirene glaring at me and pour myself a cup of tea," Zoey admits to Medeia with a smile and a shrug. She turns her attention to the head of the table though, watching as Maren is called forward.

"All the more reason to speak with you sooner rather than later, Chief Magistrate - I heard something interesting from House Blackshore's counsel that I wanted to get your views on. The work seems relatively academic but I wonder if something more practical can come of it." Natasha reaches for her tumbler of whiskey, already prepared, and turns her dark eyes towards Victus to smile at him with a slight incline of her head. "Thank you, Your Grace. The evening's tableau suits you, also." Not just the pragmatic threads the High Lord dons, but the blade in his hand and shucking oysters with them. Leaning towards Victus, she murmurs lowly under the din of the crowd. "You're saving some of those for me, right?"

She pauses, however, when a silver-haired lady approaches; there's a visible pause as near-black eyes scrutinize Maren, though the familiarity of her features are identified easily enough; her gaze widens when she realizes who it is. "....Aunt Maren?" she whispers, her fingers stilled over her tumbler. It has been years, almost another lifetime. But when presented by a silver signet of House Thrax, that earlier look of pleasure finds a resurgence. "It's extremely belated coming from me, I've not left the Isles until now, but welcome home to Arvum, aunt."

There's a smirk when Victus lays out the rare compliment and she looks to her sister. "No, I'm not mad at him. I just really like the dress that Master Apollo made." But here comes a servant to lay a plate with a few bites of food on it and she nods to Sorrel. "The one that I sent you out to the Templar site to look into? I'm sending a group forth to Lenosian waters. Supposedly there's is rumored to be something there. And something else in Tessere lands as well." An alaricite arm hides the vast majority of what remains of her left arm from sight, other than the scars across the shoulder. The giving of the ring to Maren prompts a wider smile. "There will be one for Zyanya as well."

"His Grace does not save oysters. You'd better get in there with a knife and start turning them open," Sorrel suggests to Natasha with a playful wink, sounding quite amused. She nods to Alarissa. "Yes, near the Templar site. I've got some people who are interested in figuring out a safe and economical way to harvest the kelp, and I'd be interested to find out more about what others find. Anyway, there isn't much yet, but what we have, we can share."

As she is called, Maren rises to make her way to Victus as requested, not losing her smile. Whatever it was that she was expecting though, surprise makes her go very still for several heartbeats as she receives the ring, holding it in her palm, and admiring its beauty. For a moment she seems to be lost somewhere else, a river of emotions flowing through her and causing ripples in her serenity, but when her ocean-blue eyes refocus on Victus again, her smile is accompanied by eyes that shine with more than just the light within them. "I will not, your grace," she promises Victus quietly. One calm breath and then another. "You both honor and offer a balm to my heart. Thank you." She curtsies again, meeting both his eyes and Alarissa's, before she starts to move back.

At Natasha addresses her, her smile softens further, the warmth growing more. "I longed for many years to see the day," she says to the Princess. "And I find that there are blessings beyond what I had imagined I would find, though so many I love are gone, I hope that I will get to know their children and their children's children in my twilight years, and that I am not too late to do so." She curtsies again at Alarissa's words. "Knowing that she too will know the protection and affection of her Thrax kin eases a mother's heart. Much more than words could properly express."

Octavia takes a sip of her own tumbler of whiskey as it arrives, then nods towards Natasha and muses, "Ethan Merari has a number of interesting ideas. It's a curse common to the lowborn who study law - they have many ideas about how to change things, and many of those ideas are... not completely formed." The way the Chief Magistrate punctuates the sentence with her hand may give a bit more indication as to what she means. She then falls silent for the presentation of Maren's ring, unwilling to interrupt a moment between what little family some people have.

Medeia is, seemingly, unsure how to take the compliment (?) from Victus about the house, as she pauses before her Lycene accent rings forth a "thank you, Your Grace." She doesn't seem to have the nerve to ask what they have been proven capable of. A small laugh is sent in Jan's direction. "Ah, perhaps. We shall see." And to Zoey, she grins. "I think that's the only correct answer. Imagining aunt Eirene glaring at me stops me from doing plenty."

"Lady Eirene glares at everyone, though," Ian remarks, while filling his plate.

12 House Velenosa Guards, Ibasia, the Velenosa Lady-in-Waiting, Ellani, the palm sized spider, Sir Thad Quackington arrive, following Jaenelle.

Ashe, the studious Stormward paralegal, 2 Kennex corsairs leave, following Octavia.

"Only when they do something to deserve it," Zoey counters.

"You can have all of my oysters Natasha." Alarissa gestures to a servant who steps forward to take some off the platter and then back so they can start shucking for the lawyer princess. "How is Kennex? And Eswynd?" She asks of the house members at the table.

"Your daughter has her's as well." Victus mentions after passing the ring to Maren. "If her travels take her to the Isles, nobody will bother her." He leans back into his seat and crunches through another oyster. Natasha's questions drawing his attention long enough for him to raise a brow. "... You can't eat from an oyster that you haven't opened yourself." He speaks as if it is fact, as if /everyone/ had known that by now. "Find a knife and crank. /Crank/ it." He demonstrates. Cranking back on the lip and popping another one open. The shrapnel flecks across his shirt. "Don't- don't worry about that part, that's normal."

"And to think the same man who is instructing people how to open an oyster is the same man who once was forced to cut up Donella's meat for her she was proving a point of how stupid it was for women to be forbidden from holding weapons," Jaenelle says, wiggling her fingers with a grin before she ruffles Victus' hair and moves to take an available seat at the table. "Hellp family" she greets everyone, and chances are she might very well actually be related to everyone with or without the Thrax last name.

Jan is enjoying some of the seafood with her legendary etiquette on full display. Fork and knife held in white knuckled fists, she tries the shark, the goat, the clams, anything that makes it her way ends up on her plate in at least a moderate portion. She might not be up to date on family affairs but she means to find a way into the conversation one way or another. "Judging off the amount of fresh babes running about the Kay, I'd say we are growing strong."

Alarissa's quip earns a slight broadening of her smile, though it might be too much to expect that it actually shows any teeth. "The thought *had* occurred to me to ask but we're having such a nice dinner," she quips. Sorrel's remark about getting in there also nearly prompts a laugh, though it remains trapped within her chest, never to see the light of day. "If I don't make it, remember me fondly, cousin," she tells Sorrel gamely, with a grateful look to her sister-in-law. She isn't one prone to advertise her favorites, but at least *one* makes it to the table - oysters seem part of the list, just slightly under lemon cakes.

Maren't soft words prompt her to nod, and while she doesn't reach out to touch her, her quietly affable air remains. "I look forward to catching up, and to get better acquainted with my cousin, Aunt Maren." She's only met Zyanya twice, and so briefly.

Instead, she reaches for her own blade, and leans forward to learn just how to shuck oysters from the purported master of the table. Ever the eager student, she takes Victus' demonstration to heart, that earlier mirth threatening to escape her as a piece of pearlescent shrapnel goes flying. Jaenelle's quip causes her head to lift. "The world's changing, Your Grace. Besides, I'm certain that His Grace since then has learned that if you teach a person how to shuck, she can feed herself fore--"

The tip of her knife breaks off on the oyster shell. Dark eyes narrow dangerously at it. Challenge *clearly* accepted. "....oh, it's on, you damnable mollusk."

"The right knife can help," Maren observes thoughtfully. "But when they are robust, then it might come down to willpower." She doesn't laugh outright, but it's in her eyes. "Indeed she will, as she makes her way through the Compact. It will be interesting to hear from her how my stories live up to those she discovers for herself." There is a quiet pride as she speaks about her daughter, as well as confidence in the young woman's ability to handle her explorations, though there is also relief as well. She herself doesn't reach for any oysters, apparently perfectly content with her tea. At Jaenelle's entrance, the elder woman bows her head respectfully.

"Things are well in Kennex," Zoey reports with a nod to Alarissa, glancing briefly at Jan. "We are thriving, really. Even preparing for war as we are, we are in a state of growth. And of course it is good to have as much family in town as we do."

"Honestly, you'd think we'd just use coarser, blunter knives as oyster keys," Sorrel mutters slightly, reaching for one for herself, eyeing Alarissa warily as she damages her knife. Then she looks to Jaenelle and beams. "Do join us!" she calls to her sister-in-law. "We're shucking things!"

Medeia glances between Ian and Zoey, smirking. "Is this like how Lord Ian cannot recall why he gets removed from Duchess Tyde's gardens?" But then Alarissa is asking about Eswynd. "Oh! We just recently, along with Thrax and Blackshore, finished building one of the new cogs for the Physicians Guild, and our fleet has been out helping to remap the coasts in conjunction with House Amadeo in the wake of the storm. They have been providing protection to the relief ships, as well." She smiles softly before continuing, "We are making good progress with our efforts to bring deeplight coral to the city market," her right hand lifts and adjusts the necklace with a glittery black stone she wears. "We sponsored the Good Harvest and Days of Libation festivals in partnership with the Faith and House Valardin. I was co host for two of the festivals and Lord Haakon led the prayer to Mangata at the Good Harvest celebration." It's about that time Jaenelle enters, causing the lady to beam at her former archduchess and fellow Harlequin. "Archduchess Jaenelle, so good to see you! Have you met Lady Zoey Kennex? She has recently joined us as a Harlequin. And, perhaps tonight I will finally get the chance to tell you that story? About how my husband gave me a wedding present some eight years before meeting me."

"Keeping an eye on your edge alignment can help," Ian advises Natasha, livening up a little bit now that he's found a way to bring (wrench) the conversation around to blades. He takes one of the knives to show her. "Keep the knife straight until you get it to about here. The tip isn't designed to take those kinds of forces. The same as you wouldn't want to twist a knife at the wrong time while stabbing them." He might have had something more to say, but Medeia's comment has him sinking back into a slouch and returning his interest to his food, which is probably better for everyone involved, really.

Victus has a narrow gaze for Jaenelle. Stalking through the room, a ruffling of his hair capped off by that bit of /gossip/. He doesn't say anything in reply for several seconds. Instead opting to stiffen his upper lip while the handle of his knife drums on the table. "Well. Meat is different." His attention whiplashes back to the task at hand. "Because it is." His expression has already melted back into pallid indifference. Although he does glance in Natasha's direction as an obstacle presents itself. "Direct your anger toward your enemy and use it to bludgeon their defenses." He offers in advice. "You'll get through eventually."

A halfway sheepish look is cast to her brother, but when Lord Ian Kennex steps up to help and dispense blade-wielding advice, Natasha listens given the man's expertise. She leans forward to watch, interest present, before she attempts to follow along what the Sword of Stormward advises. Blade held straight, she stops it at the precise point instructed, and then follows it up with the High Lord's earlier technique - and the sound advice about redirecting her anger. With the craggy cap of the oyster popping off, the princess' expression brightens visibly. "Aha! Victory, thank you my lord." To Ian, and dark eyes glimmering with both triumph and mischief towards Victus. "Your Grace. I wonder if that means I ought to bring a mallet with me wherever I go, now."

She pauses, though, once Medeia goes in full detail about the cog. "I recall reading something about that in today's Whites," she begins. "Sister Giada Morello's, I believe. She seems especially grateful for the help of the three families in constructing it."

As Jaenelle has not yet met Maren, there is clear interest to her blue eyes as she returns the greeting with a smile and slight incline of her head towards her great aunt. "Usually I get my oysters shelled before they come to the table, though I could see the appeal to do it yourself. The challenge would make anything taste better than it is. Why do all the work just to turn your nose up at what you find within, its more of a prid thing to follow through at that point" she then tells Natasha with a melodic laugh at the terrible time she is having with her oyster foe. "Do you need a hammer?" Jaenelle then asks Sorrel, "just.." and she makes a bashing motion with her closed fist against the table repeatedly to indicate the hammer's actual use. "Then its oyster soup!" Jae's beaming smile turns towards Medeia, "I won two trophys during the libation festival. Have I met Lady Zoey?" she takes on a mock look of shock, "who in the city has not met Lady Zoey. I almost married her cousin." A kiss is blown towards Victus with a grin appearing afterwards, agreeing that it is different perhaps?! Who knows!

Zoey chuckles and dips her head to Jaenelle. "Good to see you again, your Grace." Her eyes dart briefly up to the Grand Duchess' hair to see if a certain spider came along to dinner as well. "Which cousin again? One of my Grayson ones, I imagine."

"Yes," Medeia replies to Natasha, "Sister Giada. Who I was lucky enough to meet thanks to Princess Alarissa having me over while having the atrium shrine blessed prior to my wedding." She nods slowly, adding, "The cogs made are a slightly modified design, a bit narrower and longer, to move faster, with added oar capabilities for calm winds and still waters." The Eswynd lady's eyes dart to Jaenelle, returning that beaming smile. "You did! You are an exceptionally clever person. I am glad to have lost to you." But then her brow wrinkles, sarcasm seeping into her voice, "It seems almost marrying Lady Zoey's cousins is a popular hobby for Arvum's noblewomen."

"I might point out that almost all of us are cousins somehow, if one looks at who is cousins with whom," Sorrel points out with a mild laugh, shaking her head slightly. "Distantly related, but still possible to draw the lines between the families. A thousand years or more of intermarriage will do that."

"I cannot recommend mallets." Victus replies to his half-sibling. "Mallets are a job for crabs. Oysters can hold more than their edibility and it would be a shame to waste a pearl. Or to turn it into a high speed projectile as a result of mismanaged force. You require precision." As much a recommendation of her chosen weaponry as it is a statement of her approach to everything. "Mallets are good for throwing though. Can't easily throw a blade and expect damage."

To punctuate that remark, he cocks his arm back and /tosses/ his knife behind himself. Thankfully far out of the way of everyone else. It awkwardly smacks the wall at a sideways angle. Neither hitting the bladed edge or the pommel. It doesn't even make a mark. "See that? Wasn't that anticlimactic? That's awful. Wouldn't happen to something with the bulk of its weight in its head." He draws another blade from his belt. Because of course he's got more on hand. He's six oysters down, six more to go.

Ellani is most certainly perched within the little nest of spidersilk made into a veil that sits upon Jaenelle's head, and upon notice of Zoey's attention the palm sized spider an attempt to make itself more presentable. She is the strong silent type, but clearly she has an admirer and etiquette dictates a certain level of composure. And then she curtseys those eight little legs towards the Kennex noblewoman before settling herself down as if nothing happened at all.

"Rorik" Jaenelle answers fondly to both Zoey and Medeia about which cousin it might have been, "Symonesse seemed to approve of him, and he is just a sweet man. Though we both knew he was never anchored to one place long, and it was a surprise to neither of us when he felt the pull of the sea." At least he didnt die like everyone else. "Very true," Jaenelle tells Sorrel, "it can be hard to keep up with marriages and children born and the like to keep an up to date family tree if one was so interested in such. Tell that to Arik," she then says as an off chance to Victus when his knife goes behind him. "Six months. It took six months for it to heal when you threw your sword and it hit him." She tsks softly at his terrific aim.

Maren continues to sip at her tea, seemingly not just enfolded by its warmth, but the bantering of the young people around her. If she is shocked to see knives flying at the High Lord's table, she does a remarkable job of covering it up. Instead there's just a slight shake of her head, a crooked smile that seems to be anchored in some memory as much as observing Victus himself, though Janelle's comment quirks a silver brow. Her lips move, perhaps almost to form a question, but apparently she decides discretion is the better part of valor, and they soon close around the rim of her teacup rather than forming questioning words.

Alarissa leans over to murmur to Maren softly.

"So spake the bard, and her love for history and lore," Natasha adds with a fond look cast to Sorrel. Jaenelle's remark is a curious one, though, and she's about to inquire, clearly - but when the subject on 'almost marrying' comes up in context of the Lady Zoey's cousins, she turns her attention back to shucking another oyster. They say that practice makes perfect, and she proceeds to do just that - it gets easier, the more someone does it, and soon there's two shucked oysters on her plate, and looks as content as a clam as she surveys her work. Victus has more though, and she proceeds to (very subtly) try and race him towards the dozen. "Apparently Mother Bianca directed her my way, recently," she tells Medeia of Giada Morello. "Regarding a few matters that need attending."

Mallets are for crabs; she's hardly in a situation where food isn't prepared for her, but the advice makes sense. "I don't think I've ever come across a pearl in an oyster, though I know where they come from. Then again, this is my first time even attempting to shuck a few." The remark on precision, though, makes it absurdly difficult to suppress a smile, an incline of her head towards Victus in assent there, until he throws back his knife and it's left dangling in an awkward angle. "I don't think I can manage even half that much, but the point is very much made, Your Grace." And no, she is not apologizing for the pun.

Unable to help it, dark eyes brimming with interest gravitate towards her aunt and her quiet congress with her sister, though she doesn't interject or interrupt. Cataloguing, perhaps, the differences between old childhood memories to now.

A servant moves, scurries to swiftly pick up the tossed knife and pauses when bent, looking at the table with a look of... abject horror almost before swiftly straightening and scurrying back to the side of the room.

"Ah, Rorik. That makes sense." Zoey says with a nod. She leans toward Medeia and explains, "Cousin by marriage, and one of three siblings all called back to see. I do no think city life was their cup of tea."

Maren's teacup is held gracefully, and as it happens, at a most favorable angle for obscuring her lips, as she listens to what Alarissa says. Her smile is hidden, though the laugh lines around her eyes are decidedly activated, at something, her striking blue eyes reflecting it as well. Though the many decades have softened her appearance, and turned her hair to silver and snow, her resemblance to the very young woman lost-at-sea nearly fifty years prior's portrait that has hung somewhere in these halls even longer than that is unmistakable. Especially her eyes, so reminiscent of Donrai's in color, but suffused with natural warmth rather than coldness. She murmurs something back to Alarissa, quietly.

Dark eyes flicker from shucking to Jaenelle, with Victus' motions stopped in their tracks. "... We were in competition." Is all he says in his defense, before continuing onward at regular pace. It only takes a few seconds before he's stopped again. "The /point/ of the competition was to throw things." Restarting his wrench and pull again... until another pause. "We also lost the match on disqualification so it's not as if it was that bad." This time, he's only active for a second before topping off with a final point. "Also, he /lived/." Now he's engrossed with his food again, content to let any further points slide by.

As if Jan needed another reason to avoid marriage, accidentally marrying a distant cousin just got added to the list. Her meal savagely devoured, she burps discretely into her armpit and sits back to pick at her teeth with her knife. "Seems like you've got to walk a field of caltrops just to get properly matched these days." she remarks with a chuckle.

"If getting matched meant getting to walk a field of caltrops, you'd be married by now," Ian mutters into his drink, probably directed at Jan.

Jan's likening of marriage walking over a field of caltrops prompts a look of both agreement and mischief present in Natasha's expression. She says absolutely nothing about that entire subject, though it does propel her to reach for her tumbler of whiskey, and is in the middle of taking a sip when Ian's mutter reaches her ears. She chokes on her drink, suddenly, coughing against the tumbler, feeling the burn and eyes glistening with...are those tears? Impossible.

Besides, whiskey tears don't count.

Talk of marrying cousins makes Medeia's nose wrinkle. "And this is why I couldn't marry anyone in the Lyceum. Or Pravus." You don't have to worry about being related to your fresh Prodigal spouse, usually. "Though speaking of family, how could I forget to mention that Marquis Oskar and Marquessa Norah welcomed their heir recently? Lady Oksana is beautiful and has already bested Lord Yuri Tessere in the sparring ring." She's smiling at the memory of that moment when a servant delivers her a note on behalf of her handmaiden. She reads it quickly, and stands, dipping a deep curtsy to the assembled Thraxes. "Pardon me, it seems I must be headed out. High Lord Victus, Princess Alarissa, thank you for extending your hospitality." And then she's slipping from the room to attend to other things.

"Wait, how does a baby --?" Zoey tries to ask, but Medeia is already out the door. She shakes her head and looks over at Natasha. "Are you all right?"

Klavdiya, who is definitely a handmaiden and not a pirate, Fluffy, the wary wildcat, 2 Eswynd shieldbearers, Loryk, a cocky but amiable reaver leave, following Medeia.

Talk of marrying cousins makes Natasha's nose *also* wrinkle, but it could be the way her misdirected swallow of whiskey is presently clearing her sinuses. The princess sets down her tumbler so she could primly press her mouth against her napkin and hide the growing moisture at the corners of her eyes, though when the Lady Medeia rises from her seat next to her, there's a small smile. "I hope to speak with you again soon, my lady," she says upon her departure, before Zoey's inquiry turns her dark-eyed attention that way. "Yes, I am, thank you, my lady. It went down the wrong way, is all."

From her seat, her focus returns to her silver-haired aunt. "And you, aunt? May I inquire what you've been doing, these days? I know cousin Zyanya manages the Jade Moon but I wonder whether you've involved yourself there, also, or if something else has occupied your time?"

Jaenelle gives Victus her full attention as he explains that throwing a sword during a snowball fight was part of the rules. She doesn't bother to hide her amusement at this point, her grin curling the corners of her lips, "and this is why you are my favorite man to be named Victus ever." There is no sarcasm to her tone, words completely warm and genuine. Her eyes shift to the interaction between Alarissa and Maren, a wink given to the women. She doesnt add anymore talk about marriages though, shes had two, thats good enough.

Alarissa gives Jaenelle a faint roll of her eyes.

For a man who prides himself on punctuality, Romulius's entry to the Thrax estate's dining room is stunningly late. There's obvious agitation that plays upon bronzed countenance, poorly hidden behind his attempt at a forced smile as he offers a polite bow, aimed towards Victus but given to the room at large. "Your Grace. Your Highnesses. My lords, my ladies." There are far too many to address individually, but cerulean gaze eventually turns towards the High Lord of Maelstrom and his wife beside him. "I hope that you might excuse my tardiness, Your Grace, Princess-Consort." Even with his belated arrival, decorum has its demands. "I'd promised the Princess Natasha that I would attend, and a late arrival seemed preferable to none at all." Gaze shifts towards his childhood friend seated beside her brother, there, curiosity and mild amusement at the whiskey's effects finding its way through whatever embarrassment he carries.

Ian straightens (briefly) out of his slouch when Romulius comes into the dining room. "Lord Romulius." His flat voice could be a greeting, a comment-to-self that Romulius is there, or really just a generalized use of the name.

"The Jade Moon is a gift, not just to those curious Arvani, but also for travellers to Arvum," Maren explains, offering Natasha a smile. "The task of offering hospitality is one dear to both of us. Though I once loved to travel in my youth, I find that it something of a hardship now, and will have to live vicariously through Zyanya's stories once she returns. In the meantime, I am content to take on students once more, and while my name does not have the same draw here as it did in Weijin, I am enjoying those that do come to me for instruction or conversation. A less busy household than my husband and I kept, but satisfying." Her gentle smile does seem to reflect her finding teaching a calling. "I am hoping that as I get to know my brother's children and their children, I will also have more opportunities to spoil little ones, and to help them find their art as well. And finding those rare people that once I knew who are still here. Sometimes an old friend is listened to more than someone very much younger, when it comes to new ideas, and I am used to dancing along that middle ground. Perhaps not an exciting life, but I hope to continue to make it a rich one."

Zoey perks up at the mention of Maren teaching. "I think I may need to visit the Jade Moon again in the near future."

"I've only had a few chances to patronize the Jade Moon - once when I first arrived in Arx; a childhood friend took me there. The other when His Grace decided to introduce us to a *very* potent spirit that somehow managed to flatten Baroness Redreef." Natasha pauses from her litany when Zoey makes her addition, smiling faintly towards the Lady Kennex before she continues. "Now that I know that you've returned to us, I'm looking forward to visiting more often. Like His Grace, I'm fond of the aesthetic of the Jade Moon, also. I think we've many conversations ahead of us, aunt. It is so very good to see you."

And speaking of, Romulius arrives, expression brightening subtly at the sight of said childhood friend. "My lord Blackshore. The Lady Medeia was called away on sudden business, leaving the seat next to me vacant. Would you oblige me by replacing her presence?" She gestures to the stately, silver-haired lady across from her, sitting next to the Princess Consort. "This is my aunt Maren."

Natasha is overheard praising Alarissa.

Natasha is overheard praising Victus.

Natasha is overheard praising Ian.

Natasha is overheard praising Maren.

And then the small moment of nonduty is once again interrupted when one of Jaenelle guards arrive with a missive, causing the woman to sigh a bit before standing. "Unfortunately I must attend to something as well. I will have to come visit more often."

12 House Velenosa Guards, Ibasia, the Velenosa Lady-in-Waiting, Ellani, the palm sized spider, Sir Thad Quackington leave, following Jaenelle.

A dip of head is offered to Ian's maybe-greeting maybe-vague-acknowledgment. "Lord Kennex." Seemingly forgiven his late arrival, a nod of affirmation is given to Natasha's request, along with a decidedly less forced smile. "Of course, your Highness. Unfortunate that I missed the Lady Eswynd, but I'm sure that it won't be long before the opportunity arises again." Then, though, he is being introduced to Maren, and a polite bow is offered to the once-princess. For all of his formality, the proper address is lost, here, and there's at least an *attempt* to skirt his ignorance of such a thing. "A pleasure. My brother is actually a reasonably close friend of your daughter's - he was the one who shared the blessing of the Jade Moon, with me." He's satisfied enough with that, apparently, making to draw up the seat vacated by Medeia beside Natasha. "I hope that the evening has been pleasant enough?"

12 Thrax Elite Guards have been dismissed.

Lilybelle - The Claw of Arx have been dismissed.

Scarf, a sinewy, serious, shiny-seeking otter have been dismissed.

"It has," Zoey says with a nod to Romulius. "Still plenty to eat and drink left. I hope whatever business that kept you was not too unpleasant."

"You will always be most welcome, Lady Zoey. The garden is a good place for wandering as well. In the style of Weijin, there are unique features that make themselves known in the proper season, and all can be enjoyed in comfort from the smaller tea shelters as well." Perhaps a gentle nod to the Kennex lady's condition. "And I hope so, your highness," she offers to Natasha. "It is my hope that people will enjoy learning about some of the festivals as well, when they are hosted there. Of course it is also understandable that there is reservation as well." She doesn't seem to be the least bit offended by that thought. "But it is perhaps a good thing to bring a little joy regardless from where in the wider world it is practiced the most." She smiles at Romulius. "Oh? Well perhaps I will have a chance to meet him someday, either after her return or while she is away."

"It's understandable," Natasha agrees. "But in some way relevant to my present interests, in some form or fashion. Jadairal has entered a few of my investigations as of late, but I loath to inundate you with too much business when we've just been reacquainted. I...had I known you were also in Arx, I would have called upon you sooner. I hope you'll forgive me for the oversight." With Romulius situating himself on the seat next to her, Zoey's remark about delaying business turns a more curious eye towards his direction, leaning sideways to murmur softly to the Blackshore lord.

"During the warmer weather, I spent some time travelling and have been out of the city off and on. There are not too many childhood friends left to me, though there are some. With the tide slipping away, I thought that while I still can it would be good to visit, instead of solely exchanging letters now," Maren explains. "But while I love to be on the sea as much as I did when I was a girl, my body prefers if I am closer to warmth and comfort." Her laughter is light, and merry. But then she shakes her head. "I married my Zixin, and chose to set aside any claim to my title in that decision," she says. "But I never renounced my fealty. I cannot offer strength or beauty or command or a rich history of knowing recent history here. But what gifts and talents I possess will always gladly be given to my family. There is nothing to forgive, dear heart, but know that I am willing to help and ease where I can."

"Dycard, unfortunately, finds himself at sea far more often than he does ashore, these days. I will be sure to make an effort at an introduction, the next time he might be in the capital. There might not be a soul who sings higher praises, of the teahouse." A wistful smile accompanies Romulius's response to Maren, and the tone coloring Isles baritone makes it quite clear that he misses his younger brother. Any sadness is quickly set aside to address Zoey, warmth finding his smile before he answers, "Nothing that won't see resolution, soon. Simply some troubling news from a seafort near New Hope that required immediate attention. It seems, Lady Kennex, that each time I see you I must lament that it has been too long since the last - I should make better efforts to find your company, I think." Whatever it is that Natasha murmurs to him earns a low chuckle, and then a muttered response to the princess.

"Have you managed to call upon those childhood friends since you've arrived?" Natasha wonders, clearly curious as to the company her aunt keeps. "And I look forward to what promises to be inevitable, detailed and lengthy cultural discourse between us, then. Would you also permit me to join the Lady Kennex whenever she deigns to take you up on your teaching? She's a formidable linguist, and I would not have managed to pick apart recent troubles in Songsorrow were it not for her and Lord Ian." There's a surreptitious wink - so fleeting it could have been imagined - right at Zoey's direction.

She falls quiet when Romulius speaks of Dycard, noting the subtle strains of melancholy that make themselves known on his hard, but handsome countenance. Brows draw down visibly at the mention of troubling news, though there is curiosity there also. Whatever he does murmur back to her, though, earns him a faint nod.

"That was all Zoey," Ian protests.

Zoey smiles back Natasha's way. "It was a joint effort that was only as effective as it was because we joined forces," she says. "I am glad we were able to resolve the issue without any unnecessary bloodshed." To Romulius she says, "Should I start hosting more parties then? I can make such arrangements."

"Lord Ian ensured that there wasn't any unnecessary bloodshed," Natasha opines at the tail-end of Ian's protests, and in the wake of his wife's comments, flashing what is *almost* a grin (impossible!) at the Sword of Stormward's direction. He's not getting away that easily!

Ian snorts. "I tripped her." A pause. "Bloodlessly. Somehow."

"I certainly would enjoy the opportunity to attend one. Duty, unfortunately, demanded my presence elsewhere at your last." An apologetic smile and a dip of Romulius's head in response to the question before gaze shifts towards Ian. He's familiar enough with his patron to know that he is loathe to have attention drawn to him, and white teeth escape into a grin proper at Natasha's continued efforts to praise the Kennex. "Perhaps you might discover a similarly gentle touch the next time you show me to the deck in a spar."

"A few," Maren shares. "Though I have only visited those in the Crownlands and a handful in the Oathlands, from my time serving as lady in waiting to the Queen." Most likely the current King's grandmother. "I am hoping with some of the more recent troubles in the Mourning Isles, that some of those elders who knew me as a girl might be willing to speak with me again now to help shore up support. It is difficult when traditions must change so rapidly, I can both empathize deeply, but also know that it is possible to adapt. Sometimes these truths are heard more easily from one white haired one to another, as unfair as it may be." She laughs once more, gently, at the notion of a diplomatic...trip. "Whatever accomplishes what needs to be done, to the best measure, is a very good thing."

Ian quirks half a grin at Romulius. "Might be a little embarrassing to end a spar by being tripped and dumped on your ass, but I'll try my best."

"Knowing as much as I do of your life outside of Arvum, I imagine few could speak on lifestyle adaptations with your level of expertise," Zoey says to Maren with a smile. "All right, there will be more parties. I will have the drinks flowing until you actually can lose a fight with a single trip, if that is truly what you want, Lord Romulius."

Mention about current troubles in the Mourning Isles tempers Natasha's smile, her gaze drawing down on the silver sea serpent signet resting on her smallest left digit, gaze lidding faintly in a subtly dangerous expression. "These days, Duchess Tyde and I have been the Voices that try to work with the more traditionalist houses in our home - but my lady still encounters considerable resistance as a woman who purports to be conservative, and yet keeps a firm grip on the reins of her house despite having married cousin Dagon. If you're willing to dispense aid and counsel as to how to approach them, aunt, I'm certain we could use it - especially these days." Just mention of it does reassert fatigue at the corners of eyes that burn like embers.

Ian's and Zoey's comments towards Romulius *do* bring forth a grin, but thankfully her tumbler is in hand, and hides the expression behind her whiskey.

Romulius's head cants to the side in interest at Maren's explanation, clearly finding no small amount of interest in her travels and experiences. "I should hardly call it unfair, but if you might convince our more obstinate neighbors to give up archaic traditions, I'll have your likeness commissioned in marble personally." He's distracted, then, by the quips delivered by the pair of Kennexes, brows raised in their direction with a shrug of shoulders. "No more shameful than having my guard dismantled by a man who refuses to move his feet. You will need to call upon Lady Jan's reserves, though, if you intend to have *that* much drink flowing." With that, friendly daggers are shot to Natasha's response, his own hand finding crystal tumbler to raise his own rum for a drink.

Ian takes a sip of his drink. "You haven't seen Zoey's liquor cabinet."

Zoey nods. "It is legendary. People writing books about the alcoholic history of Arx have been known to visit and study it."

"When people feel that things are changing too fast around them, regardless of age, it is a temptation to dig in and fight. Perhaps it would never been acknowledged as fear, but that is present, but I do not think that is at its root. But just as probably most of you would not like to speak of your romantic and sensual exploits and dreams with your grandmother, well, the reverse is true also. About a lot of different topics." Maren's smile is amused. "And giving up tradition, and something that we perceive is a root of who we are--that /is/ personal as well." She studies her teacup for a moment, thoughtfully. "I can easily see myself in their place, had my own life not shifted. Now I am grateful that at least in part, what I needed to prepare my daughter to expect, before we came...has changed in ways that I am glad to see. But even when I was young, to shift so radically was not an easy path to walk. And we do not have the luxury of time, now." She smiles at Natasha. "Aid and counsel you shall have--and if you tell me the names of those who are stubborn, I can try to help soothe some of the ruffles for those who may respond to someone they once knew."

In a remarkably straight-faced, straight-laced fashion. "If it makes you feel any better, a few have said I'm practically a nun, dear aunt," Natasha remarks, dryly but with strains of good humor audible in her precise mezzo-sopranic diction. "But I'll keep that in mind. At this rate, you may never be rid of me from the Jade Moon, if you're going to be this obliging." Pausing to listen to the older woman's wisdom, she adds, quietly, "Time is unfortunately the one thing we lack. In many things." Dark eyes gravitate, almost unconsciously, to Romulius there, though they seem to shift towards Zoey and Ian at their talk of a legendary liquor cabinet. "I think for many, the abolishment of Thralldom is still a loss they view as an economic one, and *that* has remained constant, at least. No matter the culture, age or stripe, people can always be guaranteed to be ridiculously ornery when it comes to money."

To Zoey's quip, mirth simmers visibly over her pale mien, though she is content to listen about the epic-ness of the Kennex booze stores. "My lady, forgive me, I meant to ask - when are you due? Forgive me, I hadn't known you were expecting until literally just now."

"Stormward's casks always seem to be filled with liquid gold. It shouldn't be a surprise that you might have such a collection. I hope to see it, one day, though I hardly have the sense to offer any recount of it in ink." Head and shoulders lower in as close to a bow of deference to Zoey's prodigious stores as Romulius can managed from a seated position before a hand extends towards the spread to collect an oyster and shucking knife, its tip pressed deftly into hinge as he listens intently to Maren's musings. "If our enemies had a quarter of your sense, we might see an era of peace and prosperity never known before. We are lucky to be able to call upon your experience." Natasha voicing of what sentiments might exist to justify support for thralldom is met with a flash of brow and pursing of lips. "Coin is a poor excuse for the death of Choice."

Ian shakes his head to Natasha. "Thralldom's not as cheap as people like to think it is. It's been holding the Isles back for a long time."

"You are absolutely right where economics are concerned. I like to think that the better Kennex does, the more accessible abolition will appear," Zoey says, a smile for Romulius' lingering on her lips. "Oh, and I am due late winter to early spring. The exact date is a little difficult to say."

"I agree," Natasha tells Ian and Zoey, faint resignation present on her features, and no small degree of exasperation towards the old argument. "Numbers don't lie, unless they're doctored - and yet here we are." She takes a sip of her whiskey to hide her grimace. The Lady Kennex, however, easily banishes that expression. "That's wonderful news - and so soon!"

"I am sure that I can speak on behalf of the whole of our Peerage when I say that we look forward to welcoming another Kennex. I've yet to meet a child of Stormward who has been anything but delightful company - save, perhaps, your husband." Zoey's news earns a smile from Romulius that broadens into a proper grin with the barb towards Ian, though he quickly adopts an apologetic look directed towards the Sword. "It seems that I meet a new one near monthly." With his oyster shucked, the shell is turned upwards to deposit muscle and liquor into his mouth - it's far from *graceful*, but the motion at least looks practiced.

"I think perhaps thralldom is something that is honed on, and given expression, as the reason for the resistance," Maren offers quietly. "An easy thing to point to as the reason for the fear or the rebellion; on either side. But I think it is about something even more foundational. The veil has been lifted in so many ways, and even in excitement it can be troubling as well. New gods, at least to our people. It was a shock to me, forty five years ago, to learn about Skald and others. And a shock again to see how much had changed in our understanding when I returned. The appearances of peoples previously unimagined. Supernatural experiences, not once in a generation but many times in a short period of time. Layered with changes in the Mourning Isles. The roles we play as men and women. Inheritance. Thralldom. Sometimes people also resist change because a part of them knows that facing the reckoning of potential lost because of our traditions is too painful to face. The Isles are not the only ones that will have to face this. But perhaps we are unique in that we must face it in so many ways right now along with that facing all Arvani. I think it will make us stronger, as we move forward. But in the meantime, the path is not easy. For anyone." But the topic of new little one(s) on the way brings a much more light tone and radiant smile to her face.

Zoey nods to Natasha. "Well, there was a reason I wore as many layers as I did when we sailed to Songsorrow. I was already a couple of months along at the time, just on the verge of showing." Romulius gets a laugh. "Two more! Apparently we are expecting twins. Naamah does not seem to know what this means for her, but Uriel got the same look his father does whenever I talk about going on missions outside of the city." She gives Ian a grin at that.

She does give Maren a glance though as her message sinks in. "Our neighbors in the Isles -- because that is what they were, are, and will be again when this is over -- will need our empathy and support getting through the times ahead. We were born to live in tumultuous times."

Ian flashes Romulius a quick, even mischievous grin. Then the smile fades back to his usual flat demeanor, and he shakes his head to Maren. "If that were true, they'd be howling for Grimhall's blood and leaving us in Stormward alone. Leave out the thrall issue, and we're a pretty traditional house."

"The world is waking up to history, somehow," Sorrel murmurs, still sitting at the table and listening to the conversation, though she looks pensive and has been silent awhile. "Why? Why do we live in exciting times? Why do we suddenly start understanding things? What has shaken loose the sleep?"

"I agree, Aunt - humans in general are resistant to change," Natasha replies, practicing her newly-acquired oyster shucking skills on her own plate. Considering the number of shells left there, she's consumed quite a bit already. But ever helpful, and perhaps so she can keep fitting in the structured gowns she so favors, the fruits of her practice are surreptitiously snuck onto Romulius' plate; some habits don't die, per her earlier remarks on civilization's collective reticence to evolve, when she engages in an old childhood game with the young Blackshore lord. "And we will get stronger because the objective truth of the matter is, we are all going to have to adapt, or be left behind with the past. The big question, as with any broadly-encompassing issue, is how to properly do that, and I have absolutely no doubt that your insight and experience will be invaluable in answering that very question." Zoey's remark gets a small smile of agreement. "Aye, that. And it's fitting in the end, really. We're children of storms, salt and rock; tumult is already in our blood. We're born ingrained with it - it stands to reason that we are better equipped surviving it than most."

The Lady Kennex's mention of twins gets a startled look. "Gods, really? Your house is going to be full before long - the way it should be. It never seems right to me, to live in a quiet house." But that's expected too, with weather so consistently in flux in Maelstrom.

There's a nod to Sorrel's remarks, also. "I think that's connected too, somehow," she murmurs.

"I've have been fine leaving the old stuff alone if it had been willing to leave me alone," Ian grumbles.

"Twice the blessings, then. And the condolences for what rest you're able to find, today." Romulius gives a laugh that only serves to bring further warmth to the grin that refuses abatement - until Ian voices the attention levied upon Kennex. "Stormward's offense, I imagine, in the eyes of the Apostate and those like him, is loyalty to Maelstrom. The traditionalists long for days when the Isles' leadership was less enlightened." There's a glance to the sudden abundance of oyster halves on his plate, gaze shifting towards Natasha with a shake of his head as one is gathered up. "As for our neighbors, I suspect the crosses will play a part in ushering them into modern society." One of the Isles' grimmer traditions that Romulius seems to find little fault in is voiced before attention turns towards Sorrel, a half-shrug offered in her direction. "All times are exciting, your Highness, when they're contemporary, I'd think. Perhaps we just needed an example to follow, of a better way forward."

"Including my protege's child, that will mean ten children in the house, all under the age of nine," Zoey tells the rest of the table. Ian knows all too well how many children he must share a home with. Her face falls some at the talk of crosses, but in response to Sorrel she says, "A certain someone in the Archives is getting some long overdue just desserts, I think."

Ian shakes his head to Romulius. "In that case, Duchess Margot would have met Marquis Ford's fate by now," he points out. "And they'd have gone for Tyde Tower during the riot, not the Kay. Tyde's at least as loyal to Maelstrom as Kennex."

"The Compact is waking to the world," Maren agrees gently. "That has its strengths, which are not always recognized by places that have not slumbered in the same way, and its perils that others are very willing to point out." She sets her teacup aside. "It may be that the answers to those questions will be only truly known by the children, or those not yet born. I do not expect that I will know the answer to that, but my task is to clear the path as much as possible for those who will walk further than I will."

"He has powerful allies, and I worry about his friends first. He has tried to end the world once, and we had Copper. Now his ally is trying, and we do not," Sorrel points out seriously.

Zoey's gaze falls to the table, and her hands rest on her belly. Her attention seems to focus inward.

"That brings no small degree of attention, also," Natasha replies at the tail-end of Maren's remarks about the Compact's awakening. "I trust that's why..." Her voice trails off, meeting Sorrel's eyes across the table at her remarks, before an apologetic smile is directed towards her company. "Regardless, I was just reminded that I ought to try and get some rest this evening." Finishing her whiskey, she sets the empty glass on the table before slowly rising from her seat. "Aunt, I hope you don't mind if I call on you sometime in the next few days. My lord and lady Kennex, always a pleasure. Cousin Sorrel, remind me to pester you also, later this week."

Ian's point regarding Tyde's going relatively unnoticed during the riots in the Crimson Square earns a half-shrug in surrender from Romulius, apparently a concession to the logic. "I can't possibly pretend to understand what justification they might have had for so fervently attacking the Kay. Truthfully, I am surprised that both Blackshore and Redreef were able to escape as unscathed as we were." If there's any comment he might offer to Sorrel's remark, it goes unvoiced, instead giving some silent consideration to the salience of her supposition. When Natasha voices her intent to retire, he rises to offer a bow along with a "Your Highness." to the princess before leaning to give a quiet murmur to her, returning to his seat when it's delivered to work at the oysters she's deposited upon his plate.

"One can only do the best one can, and push a little beyond, and to keep putting one foot in front of the other," Maren observes. "Perhaps a new ally of ours will make themselves known. Or what was thought lost or once forgotten will be found again. It would not be the first time. And hopefully not the last." She shakes her head just a little. "It will be a pleasure, not an imposition, regardless of topic," she assures Natasha. "Though I think that for now I too should retire. It was good to meet you, Lord Romulius, and to see you again Lady Zoey, Lord Ian, and Princess Sorrel. Rest well, dear niece, and I will look forward to our discussion soon."

"I think the intent was to get to you," Ian comments to Romulius. "As soon as they'd finished with us. They just never managed to finish us off."

There's a smile for her aunt, halted there briefly by her words, and lingering when Romulius stands and delivers his partings. Subtle warmth born from a long connection curves Natasha's smile upwards, head canted in an angle at the murmur before replying directly in his ear lowly in turn. With a dip of her head to the rest, she pivots to exit.

Zoey smiles and dips her head to each Natasha and Maren before looking toward Romulius. "Kennex was the symbol. They wanted to destroy us, and our ideas with us." One hand moves from her belly to the left side of her chest, near her heart. "They would have come for you after. We did not let that happen."

"The pleasure was mine, Messere Lir, I assure you. I hope we might run into one another, soon." A nod is given to Maren's own farewell before Romulius turns attention to the Kennexes and their explanation. "I suppose, then, that I should thank your skill with the blade, Lord Ian, and yours with the bow, Lady Zoey. I am glad that you managed to defend the Kay so expertly."

3 Thrax Guards, 1 Thrax Elite Guards, Torsney, an attentive high strung law clerk leave, following Natasha.

3 Thrax Guards, 2 Thrax Elite Guards, Lady Teonia Redreef, Aryka Wyrmfang, Marquessa Pudding, a doughy dog leave, following Sorrel.

Octavian, a silken spaniel, Ruslana Stormshead, an aide in Kennex livery, 2 Kennex corsairs leave, following Zoey.

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