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An Audience

Esera Velenosa will hold an Audience. If you are a citizen of the Lyceum, you are invited to attend. If you are NOT a citizen of the Lyceum but are clever enough to slip in with one, you're still not invited, but odds are good you won't be directly UNinvited, either. This audience will be a delight! It will be DELIGHTFUL. Do attend.


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

Hosted By



Berenice Sylvie Genevra Monique Massimiliano Arman Baldessare Auda Dante Corban Saoirse Alarissa Malrico(RIP) Cesare Sorrel Denica Alistair Raven Watcher Jaenelle Tovell Udell Keely Tove Nina Artorius Isolde Pasquale Calista Maerigan Herja Caprice Harlex Macario Yuri Kalakh Gael Mabelle Ian



Arx - Ward of the Lyceum - Velenosa Estate - Audience Hall

Largesse Level


Comments and Log

Andre, the messenger who can't even arrives, following Dante.

Kit, the grey fox, Primus, First of Monique's Assistants, 1 Greenmarch Guards, Tertius, Third of Monique's Assistants arrive, following Monique.

If there is any confusion as to why her formerly-late cousin might be giving an audience years after her days as Archduchess...well, there is no sign of the sentiment upon Princess Berenice Velenosa's face. She has arrived in the audience hall with an air of cool composure and idle...if not amusement quite yet, a general sense of being open to the idea. She drifts into the hall in radiant, Velenosa-hued spidersilk, her hair a tumble of dark curls arranged to their usual coiffed perfection.

The Audience Hall sits quiet and still. Footsteps that should echo across marble floors are blunted silent. The opening and closing of the great mahogany door is just a breath, swallowed by the strange and stifling warmth of the air, smothered by it. Still, there are whispers. A low, vibrating thrum of whispers. There, in the corner. There, all around you. There, in the empty air.

At the far end of the hall, Esera Velenosa sits in the Archduchess' tall throne. She sits off-kilter, at an angle, one leg draped over the arm of the throne, elbow rested lazy on the other. A black diamond glitters upon her forehead, and her eyes, those amber eyes, glitter all the brighter. She sits there, waiting.

Lamora, Quartz, a very sneezy kitten arrive, following Auda.

Sylvie is granted entrance by dint of her last name alone, with no guards that are fluent enough in a situation that is murky enough to have questions even for her own family. But she is a Zaffria, and Zaffria is a recognized name in the Hundred Cities. So she steps into the strangely quiet hall from the great mahogany doors that close soundlessly behind her. Her grey gaze goes first to Esera, catching there for a moment in one weighted study, before she casts a look around for someone else she recognizes. She seems to consider the seating reserved for the Duchesses of the Lyceum, but rather than, she takes a seat at the back.

Sylvie has joined the Seating for the Lyceum.

Monique checks composure at hard. Monique marginally fails.

Tonight is for the invited - and for those brave enough to tempt the Lycene guards and sneak their way in. Perhaps that's why the graceful figure in gossamer spidersilk wears a veil, the black threading obscuring her features from view. When did she arrive? No one seems to know. Did any see her slip in through the front entrance? No. But she's here, slow graceful steps taking her around the peripheral of the room as her head tilts toward that throne. Some discerning eyes might catch the hint of a smile beneath the veil, but that might just be a trick of the eye.

Genevra is clad in the family armor of the Artiglios, the Hounds of Velenosa chased into her vambraces, her helm the likeness of a hound's head. At her hip is Pathway, a sword familiar to those who knew Serafine Velenosa. The Guard-Captain stands at the edges of the crowd, within sight of Esera, her shoulders tight, the woman at attention, scanning the crowd now and then for faces she might know, and those she might not.

Lady Monique Greenmarch arrives and though she's not Velenosa, after a whispered conversation with the guards, the Valardin is admitted into the throne room. Her garb is decidedly Eurus-inspired, desert sunset duskweave gown and lustrous golden jacket draped over it, twelve golden chains hanging from her wrist. The smile that was on her lips falls gracelessly from them when her gaze lands on Esera, and narrows to her forehead. Footsteps halt and she nearly trips over them, clearly thrown by something.

Massimiliano arrives alone but on time, dressed dark and without a smile to smooth some of the jagged edges off his serious case of resting judgment face. He might pause just inside the audience hall but it's to assess the room momentarily, the stillness of the place, the throne and who sits upon it, even the arrangement of the seating. It does not take him much time at all to choose a seat in the back, quietly and without ado.

Arman enters at a languid pace, the tapping of his cane against the floor goes unheard today. He passes a placid look over the room before standing in front of throne and offers the Archduchess Emeritus a deep bow with a practiced courtly flourish honed with over fifty years of practice. As he stands his eyes pass over Esera and rest briefly upon her head. After a time he dips his head again and turns, seating himself wordlessly.

The mood had been tense around the Velenosa Estate of late - at least for Baldessare. Having been on edge since recent events, his stride has been purposeful, eyes always darting to corners. The Crown passing party was an example of what happens when jenis too tightly wound, and so tonight is no different. He walks purposefully into the audience hall, gaze moving to each corner as if seeking out a possible threat, gliding over the other assembled members of his family. Each getting a respectful nod as they are seen. When it finally comes to the throne, he starts slightly. Barely perceptible unless one is studying him. His gaze quickly casts about the crowd again, seeking. As his eyes alight on Arman, he shifts quickly and strides over towards where he has taken a seat with a rapid, but still walking, pace.

It is not a restful evening. Not with the unseasonable weather, and not with those smothered whispers. When Berenice steps into the audience hall, it is in her most striking gown of Velenosa violet in rarest spidersilk, and somehow it is like being clad in Lycene armor. Her steps are sure and steady, and she approaches the head of the audience hall without doubt of hesitation. It would be easy to miss the way her eyes note the black diamond set in Esera's circlet.

"My dear cousin," Berenice says, her smile warm. "Perhaps you would find a different seat more comfortable."

Arman has joined the Seating for the Voices of House Velenosa.

Auda appears somewhere near the general seating. Who knows how or when she entered-- Auda's fairly unremarkable in appearance. Dark grey leathers and a duskweave blouse. Nice enough to escape notice, not luxe enough to demand attention. Bright green eyes hover on the 'late' Esera, then the veiled figure, and then skim across the rest as she finds a glass of wine. Surely there's wine.

Auda has joined the Seating for the Lyceum.

As thick fog descends on the city, there is an uptick in activity throughout the wards. The Iron Guard complain that they can hear voices asking for help from the fog, but there is no one there when they move to answer their calls. Individuals all across the city claim that they can hear voices that are strangely familiar calling in the fog, that they can never quite find. The Mercies of Lagoma are deeply concerned after discovering a rash of these obviously ill victims all claiming that they hear the voices of their dead loved ones.

People who stumble into the Lyceum Ward find that no matter which way they turn in the fog, they all find their way to just one place -- the Velenosa Estate.

The guards in the Audience Hall bow respectfully to the arriving member of House Velenosa.

3 House Velenosa Guards, Dreya, an older woman in Velenosan livery, Ailfryd, a tall, thin man with a haugty air arrive, following Saoirse.

A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Sylvie before departing.

"No," Esera answers Berenice, and her voice splits the silence like the breaking of a mirror. The whispers that thrum through the Audience Hall rise to a terrible gust. The brass lanterns that hang from the ceiling tremble. "I hold audience over this throne. This Ward. This /City/. I will wait here as long as it takes." A pause. "As will you all."

A flock of ladies-in-waiting, 3 Thrax Guards, 2 Thrax Elite Guards, Advocate Robert, a fastidious well dressed assistant, Coconut Custard, the Graypeak Mountain Dog arrive, following Alarissa.

Baldessare has joined the Seating for the Voices of House Velenosa.

Reedy, a King's Own aide arrives, following Corban.

With his usual nimble, feline gait Dante strides into the Hall - typical confidence and a bit of swagger included. That comes to a full stop when he finds himself hearing whispers all around him, a susurrus which has his mossy green eyes darting about before the realization comes that there's nothing to see, at least nothing corporeal. Esera is spotted at the end of the hall. The Marquis examines her rather closely, eyes lingering upon that black diamond with a curious expression - then he shakes off his temporary paralysis and walks briskly to the throne to give the woman upon it a deep bow, shuddering slightly as her voice runs through him. Afterwards, he makes his way to the appropriate seating and sits down, straightening his umbra and aeterna afterwards.

Dante has joined the Seating for the Lyceum.

With a brief bow of his head, Baldessare slips into the seat next to Arman, leaning over to offer him a greeting.

Laughter, distant and strange, escapes from the woman beneath the veil as her head turns to the Oleander. Her steps have paused, the cloud of spidersilk (that Lycene armor) settling about her feet as she takes some great pleasure in watching this exchange. When the lanterns tremble, she is unmoved, unsurprised even, and after Esera's words she resumes her walk. She drifts past the seating, and when she nears, a cold chill comes with her - probably a product of the fog outside. The unseasonable weather adding an eerie chill.

Genevra's eyes settle on Berenice as she speaks and makes her suggestion to Esera, the Guard-Captain arching an eyebrow but staying silent and at the edge of the crowd. At Esera's response, while the tone of the Archduchess is enough to bring anyone's attention to bear, Genevra continues to scan the crowd now and then, her gaze restless.

Sir Corban Telmar is very ... confused ... to be here, quite frankly. "What in the Aion?" he remarks as he wanders into the Audience Hall, scratching his head slightly. "I was coming to have a drink at the Black Fox and got caught in that fog and this was the only place I could find my way to." It's sort of a lame explanation, really, but it is true enough. So the First Captain makes his way in more-fully, slipping towards one he knows: His ex-wife.

Monique doesn't sit but she does linger near the seating and her eyebrows go up measurably at Esera's proclamation. She receives a message from a poor messenger who is now stuck here with her and the missive is scanned with an increasing wariness. "If *he's* worried, we ought to be terrified," she mutters beneath her breath, off kilter enough that the words are still audible to those near by. She glances aside to Corban's arrival and leans in to whisper something much softer.

A messenger steps inside to deliver a note to Sylvie, and she frowns over the wording, concerned. She crumples it up. Who knows if the messenger will be able to escape now, but the former Duchess of Zaffria rises when the gusts do. She casts a look towards Berenice, a question, but then her attention turns to Esera as she asks politely, "May I speak then, Princess Esera?" She pauses, politely still, before she asks, "What is it that we are waiting for?" Her gaze drifts to the veiled woman, and she remains risen, as she looks back to Esera.

Saoirse was just on her way HOME -- nothing fancy! nothing wild! But as she made her way through the streets, that fog descended and her steps quickened. And as she made her way into the estates, strangers litter her hallway. Saoirse gives a 'what the fu--' glance around and quickly moves toward her father.

Baldessare settles into his seat, eyes scanning the room. His left hand slips into his pocket.

Not the place she was intending to go, not in the least, but here's Alarissa, frowning as she makes her way in with some of her entourage scattering in Corban's wake as she makes her way further in, alaricite in the place of her left arm.

After a moment of quiet observance, Genevra would shift on her feet, looking back to the throne. She takes a few steps towards it, eyes flicking back to the room, her back turning just a little towards Esera, the Guard-Captain's stance subtly protective.

Dolente, a mourning dove, Dolce, a collared dove arrive, following Cesare.

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

A reserved assistant named Stojan, 3 Inquisition Confessors, 3 Thrax Guards, An ostentatious curator named Sivas, 1 Thrax Elite Guards, A nondescript man named Cato arrive, following Denica.

All the guards in the Audience Hall immediately snap to attention and salute as the Archduchess of Lenosia arrives.

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

Somewhere, far off in the Velenosa Estate, there is the sound of a steady beat, counting out the seconds, minutes. I'll wait, it seems to say. Tick, tick, tick.

"Well. I see you're feeling nostalgic." Berenice's smile is undeterred, but there is an edge of steel beneath the silk. Her gaze shifts subtly to note Genevra's stance, then the stranger in the spidersilk veil. "Do try to contain yourself," she finally says to Esera, as warm a warning as can be. And then, finally, she steps gracefully to the table reserved for the Voices of her family.

1 Iron Guardsmen, 3 Black Fleet Reavers, Moonsilver, the pale-feathered raven arrive, following Raven.

Baldessare looks to his sister as she approaches the table and inclines his head to her.

Corban has joined the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

Monique stays standing near the seating, whispering hushedly to Corban. But her eyes, they remain riveted to the black diamond on Esera's brow. Still, no daggers find their way to her hands. Surely that's a good sign.

The guards in the Audience Hall bow respectfully to the arriving member of House Velenosa.

Thomas the Faithful, the Silver Honey Badger, 3 Armed Confessors, 3 House Velenosa Guards arrive, following Alistair.

"Tch." There's a cluck of a tongue heard through the room that grows noticably darker for a moment, like a cloud passing over the sun. In the center of the room now stands a man, unremarkable in every way, save perhaps eyes that look almost golden in the light. He gives a low sweeping bow towards the throne, but it seems just a trifle too perfunctory rather than sincere. "Do you know who invented the concept of interest, of which bankers are most fond?" There's something deeply unsettling about him, as if something about his appearance was just jarring and wrong in a way impossible to quite describe, like trying to stare at something through unfocused eyes. "It has been compounding for quite some time. QUITE some time. Tch." He smiles, shark like, and far too wide for any normal person. "It is good to see you all in one place. A veritable trove. But not quite everything that I might claim. Not..." Golden eyes linger on black diamonds, "... quite."

Despite the fact that the Softest Whisper is not, in fact, a citizen of the Lyceum, he arrives in the audience hall resplendent in gold, blue, silver, hair spilling down his shoulders. He had told those he left at the Shrine of Jayus to go home, but apparently has not followed his own advice, instead following the thickening fog to where it became most suffocating. His dark eyes travel keenly over those assembled, his expression placid as he bows to the royalty and nobility of House Velenosa, hair spilling over his shoulders like a waterfall of ink, and settles into a seat with attentive silence.

"Your Highness," Sorrel says to Alarissa as she glances around, a little puzzled. "This is the Velenosa Estate. I thought the party was to be held elsewhere." She breathes in slowly, making certain to keep close to both of the other Thrax princesses she arrived with, the Princess Consort and Princess Denica. "I have concerns."

Denica is confused. But, she is confidently confused. The short Thrax princess enters in a trio of Thrax with Alarissa and Sorrel. The artist is looking blankly at the other women catching up with herself. There is something about the sudden change of scenery that has her trying to catch up. Thoughts don't fully form, rather she presses pale pink lips together while vivid blue eyes scan. It's enough to send a little shiver up her spine, but Denica breathes in. Eyes drift back to Alarissa, perking her thick Islander eyebrows in silent question. "All roads lead...," she murmurs trying to get a full understanding of the scene she has easily stepped into.

Massimiliano seems less concerned with what's going on around the throne and more with watching how the people are starting to pour in from off the streets, at least until that steady beat starts from somewhere within the Velenosa Estate. That has the Torean man sitting up a little straighter, attention drifting forward to where Esera's at to whom she's speaking. Just briefly he purses his lips.

Berenice has joined the Seating for the Voices of House Velenosa.

Cesare has joined the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

Saoirse has joined the Seating for the Voices of House Velenosa.

Contain herself? Esera tilts her head, and there's the lift of a dark brow, a question asked there. Contain herself? She shifts, sitting straighter now, shoulders and back iron-straight, legs crossed at the knee. This is Esera Contained. Still, she waits.

The prodigal Prince of Velenosa steps into the Audience Hall, because someone fogged his house. At his heel is the large dog looking creature, that looks far too wild and far too mangy to actually be an animal of the canine variety. The man raises an eyebrow at the rather large gathering and the confusion that lingers about.

As the man appears in the room, Sylvie's lips press into a line. Her question goes unanswered, and she doesn't pose another one. Instead, she folds herself back down gracefully into her seat, only to add her own whisper to the Hall: a whisper of a prayer.

Raven looks disgruntled as she strides in with a slight limp and one side of her face covered in fading bruises, "What the actual fuck? /why/ Am I here?!" is it spooky and forboding? Absolutely. Would a reasonable person wait with breath held in apprehension? Also yes. Does that stop Raven from scanning those gathered with her verdant gaze, seeking someone to blame? Nope!

The veiled woman drifts - that seems to be her desire, to see everyone through the shroud of spidersilk. She pauses behind Arman, a pale hand extending to touch, but no actual contact made as she whispers something for his ears only, and then she moves on, those not of the Lycene brushed past with little fanfare. There's a shift in the air, however when a golden-eyed one enters. She turns sharply, the whisper of silk swishing about her form. Whatever she feels about Malrico's arrival is hard to tell, the veil guarding her expression, but she's stopped her chill-filled socializing, at least. Those nearest might hear a small inhale.

Watcher's entrance is near silent but she *almost* stumbles right through the doors, her expression one of confusion and...something else. Something very, very 'else'. Nothing about the inside helps that at all. She backs up, finds the wall, and just sticks there, eyes a little too wide.

Udell arrives, following Keely.

Genevra stiffens at the sight of Malrico, eyes riveted to his figure, her posture shifting to put her back to the Archduchess perched on the throne. One hand would drop, like weighted silk, to the hilt of the famous sword at her hip. Lips pressed into a thin line, she would remain silent and vigilant.

Arman checks composure and performance at hard. Arman is successful.

Jaenelle moves out of the hall housing the family rooms. Esera is sitting on the throne, much as Jaenelle remembers the woman, though before she might have offers a curtsey, now there is just confident steps towards them. This is her house, and that is her seat. She does not sit, remaining beside them with a lean as she glances at those growing gathered in her audience hall. Malrico catches her eyes, "I do not believe I have seen you since...a dinner? A ball? Something of that nature."

There's a muted kerfuffle with the guards at the hall's entrance; the number of puzzled folk emerging from the fog's soup to find themselves summoned to the Velenosa Estate grows. From among that number slants Tovell. He gestures beyond, unintelligible words spoken---confusion carries---but there's the press of bodies and he's soon through. Corban knows what to do? Corban probably knows what to do. So say the shifting emotions which work across the Silver Sword's features as the room darkens and clocks tick; he's soon abutted to place beside that man and Monique, eyes slanted aside into an unsure glance which encompasses the both of them.

"All roads least to Velenosa." Alarissa finishes for Denica even as her right hand slips into a pocket in that dress made to look like a tidal pool. "Not the Terente's in the least." And eyes settle on Malrico and the words spoken. The murmurs softly to the women with her even as her eyes look back to Genevra and a raised brow, faintly questioning.

2 Ivory Shields, Rodrigo, the Surprisingly Large Flautist, Romeo, a love sick bird who wouldn't be free arrive, following Nina.

"It seems that we have, indeed...", Udell remarks to Keely as he looks about owlishly to the others in attendance.

Alistair slides a hand down to the hilt of his blade, glancing down to his animal familiar, whos hackles have risen slightly. The confusion for him is now gone, what little there was considering he was already in the Estate when the fog settled. Now that confusion is replaced with simple discontent, an ever slightly different flavor then his typical dour outlook on everything.

Keely stumbles inside, looking incredibly disoriented, without any guards or retinue to speak of but, for some reason, with an Archlector in tow. She looks bewildered, her dark gaze flicking over her shoulder toward the thick fog through whence she came, and, after a moment of weighing her options, turns to slip as discretely as possible into a seat at the back.

Saoirse shivers next to her father and leans slightly away when the spider-silk woman whispers to him.

Eyes riveted on Esera, Dante stands in his assigned seating - a little too keyed up to actually sit down. The arrival of Saoirse does draw his attention however, both a bow followed by a an expression of widened eyes given her way as he plucks at the edge of his cloak. "Your Highness. I am, as always, delighted to see you." Afterwards his gaze roams to Jaenelle and Malrico, the latter making him squint after that rather odd pronouncement.

Arman's neck and shoulders instantly tense but he resists the urge to turn around, a brief shiver runs through his body but he otherwise remains still. As the spider-silk veil whispers to him his jaw sets and his head simply inclines and tilts in an acknowledgement to what was spoken.

Corban imperceptibly gestures for Tovell to come over and join him and Monique. Safety in numbers, perhaps.

Tove slips past the arched mahogany door, movements seeming halting, expression uncertain. Spying a quiet place near a trellis, the woman eases into the perimeter of the crowd as best she can.

The golden eyed man doesn't look at Raven but answers outloud, in a voice that carries far better than it should for the mild tone inside the hall. "It's the wanting. One can't help but want. It is your nature, you die otherwise. Sometimes it is simply more pronounced, a little nudge. It is... a side effect. Tch." He starts to walk towards Esera on the throne, and when any stranger commoner approaches the throne, regardless of whom might be sitting on it, it would be customary for guards to intervene. Not so in this case. The Velenosa Estate guards stand still, perfectly still, as if they had suddenly become statues. The man ascends to stand just before Esera, stating in a voice, "I am Malrico Pravus, and I am owed much. Everything, in fact. Tonight, I believe, there shall be a collection."

Raven has joined the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

"Well," Sorrel says dryly to Alarissa. "If I weren't so anxious about what's going on here, I'd suggest we attempt to party with the Velenosas instead. But, y'know, it looks like they're having their own creepy party, and why are we even here?" There's a lot of bravado in her stance, but also something very protective. And she looks on edge.

Tovell has joined the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

Ezekiel the Crownlands Shepherd, 2 Sea Rover Bodyguards arrive, following Artorius.

Nina was a bit late. She actually just wanted to attend the meeting, but, she wasn't sure if she counted as someone who could get in naturally or not, being attached to Pravus. She assumed she might have to charm a guard or something if it came to that, but then realized that everyone is all huddled in looking disoriented. She looks around with wide eyes.

Resisting the urge to look back at the figure which addressed Arman, Baldessare's eyes remain on the golden eyed figure. His hand resides in his pocket, fingers moving softly within.

Artorius has joined the Seating for the Lyceum.

Auda watches others filter in with bright eyes, but like most of the others, her eyes snap to Malrico as the man speaks, and approaches, and.. demands? Were those demands? So far, she's quiet. So far.

Berenice's gaze cuts across the room to the entrance of a certain gentleman, her features carefully composed and set as marble. There is only the /slightest/ narrowing of her eyes at his words, her gaze inscrutable. But when he approaches the throne, and the guards remain still as statues, there's a ripple of tension up her spine, finally visible.

Alistair presses through the crowd now. At least having the common courtesy to lightly touch people on the shoulder or arm and give them a moment to move aside as he presses further into the hall and also approaches the throne, where there seems to be some gathering of note worthy people. The entire time his eyes are on Malrico and the hand is on the hilt of his blade. The badger at his feet falls, msotly keeping quiet but delivering annoyed glares at those who falter its way.

The guards in the Audience Hall bow respectfully to the arriving member of House Velenosa.

Sylvie's head shakes softly, a little thing, but she doesn't speak up again. She watches, waiting as well for demands. For a moment, her grey gaze flicks over the room, catching who might be present, tracking the veiled woman, before she looks back up towards the throne where Jaenelle, Malrico and Esera seem to be converging.

Raven grunts, "My wanting belongs to another. Sort out your bu-...." She blink-blinks, eyes widening. She looks around frantically for familiar faces, passing over some and pausing over thers as she paces further in, realizing if a bit slowly she's not going anywhere for the moment, "Fu-uck." she declares in a startled exhale.

Laughter, again, escapes the woman behind the veil. But it isn't /right/. There's humor there, but it is a humor without vivacity, without life. Disconnected from the body, and the sound carries at the end of Malrico's words. Despite the apparent amusement, her voice lifts in agreement, "Indeed there will be." The accent is Lycene in nature, but there's a hollowness to her voice couple with a rasp of some unspoken injury. Pale hands lift from the folds of her sleeves, and her fingers brush the edge of the veil. But she does not pull it free - not yet.

The short princess has a hard time seeing through the crowd, she's short, so she is standing on her tip-toes. There is a face that she recognizes and she is making a subtle gesture to Alistair across the room to catch his attention, before she murmurs something to the trio she is with, before she starts to move through the crowd.

Cesare is sitting very still, but his eyes are traveling around the room with tremendous attentiveness, the weight of his gaze so intense as to almost be palpable. His fingers are tightly laced together in his lap, the knuckles white, fingernails digging into his skin. Despite his efforts to make eye contact, everyone he looks at is too distracted - and reasonably so - to notice him looking in their direction.

Esera lifts one hand to touch her cheek, the tips of her fingers just grazing the line of her hair. She tilts her head against the curve of her hand, and watches Malrico through the veil of smoke-dark lashes. Her eyes are so like his. Gold to gold. Flame to flame. "You came to me, that night," she tells him. Her voice crashes through the throne room with all the power of a gathering storm. "That night my mother died. You wrapped your arm around my waist, and you whispered in my ear. What did you say?" The whispers that choke the air rise, rise, TELL ME WHAT YOU SAID, tell me what you said, tellmewhatyousaid.

The trio of Thrax remain where they are, murmuring with one another though Alarissa keeps her right side kept toward her cousins and watches the drama at the throne with wary eyes and hand firmly in the folds of her skirts.

Monique checks composure at hard. Monique marginally fails.

Genevra, the Guard-Captain, watches as Malrico approaches her charge. The hand on her hilt pales through the knuckles as her grip clenches. She takes a long, slow breath. And holds it, her features contorting with what can only be strain.

The fog lead him there. "Eh? This isn't the Black Fox..." Artorius sways a bit but then decides after multiple attempts to leave, he ends up here. He sashays over toward a seat eventually, taking a flask out of his vest.

Late addition to the event but Isolde lingers near her husband with a glass of wine. She instinctively takes a step toward her sister, her brows furrowing.

When Sylvie catches sight of Cesare, she stands and slips through the crowd to find a graceful seat next to him. She breathes out something that sounds like, "Thank the gods you are here. I am sorry-- but you may have to quickly become my very best friend." The hint of a smile plays at her lips, at odds with the panic in her light eyes.

Nina has joined the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

Nina watches as drama unfolds, and she twirls a bit, as if anticipating. "Oh, how lovely. I'm here just in time for a play!" Being from Pravus ward and a commoner besides, Nina at least knows her place is in the background seating. She walks over and grabs herself JUST THE EDGE of a bench, looking as she watches as drama in front of her is surely about to unfold.

It's a bad night for the Minx of the Marches. Her eyes go blank for a moment, as if she's not there in that throne room. And when she blinks, her gaze settles on Malrico. And it's hard and cold and sharp. And confused. As Tovell leans in to whisper something, Monique startles, her fingers reaching for something instinctively.

Sylvie has left the Seating for the Lyceum.

Sylvie has joined the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

3 Fidante House Guards, Santino arrive, following Calista.

Cesare turns as Sylvie comes over, nodding. He dips in to speak quietly to her, one of his hands folding into her own.

Watcher, silent, back as against the wall as it can be, slides to a sit on the floor, hunches her shoulders, and buries her face in her arms, looking tense enough to snap in two should she move too quickly. Fortunately, she doesn't seem particularly keen to move anyway.

Alberico, the Malespero aide, Louis, a Malespero Armsman, Mar, the Magpie arrive, following Pasquale.

The golden eyed man for a moment looks out over the assembly, and that too-wide smile gets even unnaturally wider, "I told you who the true master of the Lyceum is. I told you that I stood behind you, or every high lord, as long as they remembered who possessed the Lyceum. That you should never act against me, for if you or any high lord did, House Velenosa would do naught but wane." The word 'wane' echoes through the chamber, though his voice was not raised. "Though I expected to keep foxes on this chair. This has gone... outside the plans. I'll collect the diamonds, bolstered ever so much by their wearers now."

Very quickly does Dante focus his attention again upon Esera with her voice thundering through the room towards Malrico, now able to watch the both of them very easily as tension furrows his dark brow. Head tilted to the side, he seems distracted by something or another .

Jaenelle remains standing beside her throne, eyes trailing the man as he approaches one of her many sister in laws. Then Jae's attention turns towards her family below the raised dias. The hand resting on the back if the throne tightens as if it wishes to reach out for Esera but doesn't.

Saoirse watches Malrico carefully as he speaks. If there's a flinch when he says 'wane', it could just as easily be a soft lift of a breeze.

Sylvie checks composure at hard. Sylvie fails.

Pasquale frowns briefly as he steps into the audience hall. Did he actually plan to come here? Hard to say. He starts to head over to join Monique but jolts a bit at Malrico's words and presence. His gaze go over to the golden eyed man, hold on him for a while, and then drop away so that he can finish moving to the Minx's side.

Word travels of the who and the what and it piques the interest of one Duchess of Tor. However, she is late for the start of the audience and remains towards the back of the room, blending with the shadows much like the ash and smoke illusion of her gown. Family is gathered, both past and present and she gives the room a sweeping glance with her emerald eyes. As she takes a step to the side, Calista braces herself for a moment, her blinking as of to clear her vision.

Genevra's voice cracks through the silence so close to Malrico and Esera.

"Tell her what you said, Malrico," Genevra says, in a specific cadence some in that room might recognize. It is not the cadence of a captain of the guard.

"And then?" Esera asks. The whispers rise, susurrus soft, telluswhatyoudid, telluswhatyoudid, telluswhatyoudid.

Auda gasps softly towards the end of Malrico's.. speech? Exposition? She's even leaning forward a little more, squinting at.. Esera, rather than Malrico. Slowly rising from her seat. Slowly edging closer to the front. Possibly not even noticing that she's moving, or certainly not paying attention more than is necessary.

Raven's eyes widen and there's another ever succinct, "Oh. Fuck." her brow furrows and her lips press. She looks to Tovell then to Nina, and her bottom lip is worried between her teeth as she thinks very hard.

The veiled woman moves, each step taking her closer, closer to Malrico, closer to Esera. As she glides past the seats, the chill follows in her wake, until she is upon him. Her arm slides around his waist, and her voice joins in the whispers carrying through the hall, even as he is already speaking. "Tell her what you said. Tellherwhatyousaid." She joins the choir, daring to near the one who speaks so much of control. "Telluswhatyoudid. Telluswhatyoudid..."

Cesare rises to his feet, chin slightly lifted, and voice ringing out. "He means to bind the Fractals," he says. "The Traitor does. All of them. Onyx, Sapphire, Opal, Ruby, Pearl, Emerald. Even you. And to use the rings to bring the Mantle of Diamond back into the world. And you would gather them all in one place, for him to do so easily." He adds, his voice a mere echo of the whispers carrying through the hall, "Tell her what you did. Tell her what you said."

Watcher mutters something very, very quietly into her arms. Repeatedly.

Alistair shifts his gaze briefly from Malrico, despite his declarations, his attentionf alling upon Esera and the veiled women. Their own oddities seeking to rival Malrico's regardless of how his voice echoes without effort. The man's hand is still firmly on the hitl of his sword. He takes on a far more aggressive and prepared stance. As Cesare starts speaking names, Alistair's gaze slides over to him.

Having remained perfectly still since stationing herself beside a trellis, Tove's full attention is locked on the events unfolding across the Hall.

Face twisted into a frown, Baldessare watches Malrico and Esera and the veiled figure intently. His jaw clenches but he remains motionless and silent.

Sylvie allows her hand to slip from Cesare's, her gaze lifting to him under the fan of dark lashes as he stands. She doesn't stand. She stays seated, lips pressed together that would usually hold a smile, and looks from Cesare to the throne.

Isolde turns to Cesare with a bewildered expression at this words, before turning back to Esera, a questioning look on her expression. Then Malrico is given a lingering gaze. "He's not the Traitor." She comments, taking a sip from her glass.

Arman's head turns to the familiar voice of Cesare Whisper and his declaration, the corners of his eyes crinkle with concern before he turns to listen to the reply of Malrico, if any.

Calista glances to Isolde just then and those words make her laugh. The sound isn't quite Calista's voice. It's softer, more insidious, with a velvet touch.

"That those who disobey me are destroyed, every one." Malrico says calmly, golden eyes looking around the room. It's no more than a glance, takes no more than a second, but it's deeply unsettling how every individual can feel he meet their eyes and held them pointedly in the brief turn. Impossible, surely, but one could swear. "Carlotta entertained a friendship that was inconvenient, so she was not stopped before visiting the Twilight Grove." It's too casual that shrug, that admission, the shark-like smile never fading. "Niccolo did not heed me, so he was discarded." He makes a throwing away gesture, as if discarding invisible trash. "Eleyna, she had a spine. Too defiant. Much too defiant. Couldn't have that. One bends or they break. She, I *shattered*." His voice is slow and pointed as he clearly enunciates each word that echoes unnaturally in the room, "Where. Are. My. Rings."

Shotzey, winner of Arx's Ugliest Dog Competition, Jack, a scrappy trash cat arrive, following Maerigan.

Sylvie checks composure and diplomacy at hard. Sylvie is successful.

Monique's fiery head comes up as she hears Isolde. "Oh, he may not be *the* traitor but he's a traitor nonetheless." The words are loud enough to carry to Malrico's ears.

Watcher checks composure at daunting. Watcher fails.

Tovell checks composure at hard. Tovell fails.

Raven fidgets and foot-taps restlessly as if very sure this is about to go very very badly for someone but not entirely sure what to do about that fact-if anything should be done at all. Tersely, "Cesare, I sure hope you know what you're butting into."

Maerigan is drawn in by the weirdness of the evening and the fog. Immediately she senses she has chosen a terrible moment and slides into a dark corner to watch.

Isolde checks composure at daunting. Botch! Isolde fails completely.

"If you claim them now, the Horned One will kill you," Sylvie replies, her words quiet so that they do not shake. She rises beside Cesare, standing next to him as she looks to Malrico.

Alarissa checks composure at hard. Alarissa fails.

Keely sinks down into her seat at the very back of the room, with the look of someone who would rather-- and very much meant to-- be anywhere else.

Pasquale speaks quietly with Monique as events unfold although he pauses everytime one of the major players starts to speak. He looks to Monique as she speaks up and once again frowns in consideration.

Auda just -looks- to Cesare. "He already has chains around the King. It's only the Moon we can still save." She turns her gaze back to the thrones, to those gathered there. Another step or two closer.

Watcher practically hisses into her arms. If she could make herself any smaller, she would, and she certainly seems to be making a valiant effort regardless.

Despite his best efforts, Baldessare wobbles slightly in his seat as if from the wave of sound following Malrico's demand. His jaw is clenched, the knuckles of his visible hand white. The other remains in his pocket, manipulating some object within nervously.

Denica has moved, leaving Alarissa and Sorrel and as more and more people are talking, alarissa's jaw turns tighter and tighter. To Cesare, then Calista, the tendons on her neck stands out as she stiffens but doesn't take her hand out of her pocket. Malrico's invocation of Eleyna's name has a sound being torn from Alarissa's throat, like someone kicked her. "You killed Eleyna?" Anger in those eyes, spoken with venom.

Obviously unsettled after Malrico's words, Dante gives Calista a brief nod in greeting, then returns to staring at Esera and her rather demanding guest. A guest whose golden eyes that make him shudder when he feels them fix upon him. Thankfully, he has no such ring. Cesare is just given a strange look.

Raven's eyes widen and her face blanches, "*FUCK*" She turns and looks at Sylvie and Cesare like they have lost. Their. Minds.

Alistair shifts his gaze back to Malrico as the conversation seems to swirl around him. And then he rattles off names, events, fates. When he says the name of Isolde's mother there is a distinct sound that follows. ShiiiiInnk. Blade sounds on scabbard as Alistair half draws diamondplate blade, although the blade tip does not leave the scabbard yet. Alistair is really not made for politics, as his stance is made obvious.

Malrico's words prompt Isolde to drop her glass, shattering on the floor, the red liquid gathering around her feet. And then she's slumping onto the ground.

Baldessare withdraws his hand from pocket, crossing his arms over his chest. Looking out sternly at the proceedings.

Maerigan practically shits her pants when a Princess slumps to the ground. She makes herself visible over /there/.

Tovell stiffens where he stands in company with Corban and Monique as Malrico's gaze sweeps; an angry flush darkens fair features in the next heartbeat's pulsing. His abject confusion transmutes into red-hot anger as directives are cast about. No, not worried, not confused anymore---just simmering hot, his greens slanted into squinted relief. "Tell me I can do something useful here," comes in terse request toward Corban, his superior.

There is a bit of an about turn and Denica is making her way back through the crowd, trying to find Alarissa and Sorrel. The young princess is tense, shoulders held taut, lips are pressed together so tight that they form a thin pale, pink line. Her eyes scan the room constantly, as though she is looking for something but isn't quite sure what it is.

Genevra Artiglio, endlessly loyal, shudders where she stands when Malrico confesses to the murder of the former Archduchess. She shudders and groans and drops to her knees, clutching her head. She opens her mouth in a soundless scream and, suddenly, as if stepping -out- of her body, a small, pale figure emerges. Not quite substatial, but still -present-. She was always short and seemingly unimpressive physically as compared with other members of the family, but there is something in that bearing... defiance. Pure, unbridled defiance. The sort of woman that could not be told what to do, even by a Herald of the Abyss. The White Lily of Lenosia looks to Malrico and says with a wicked smile and an all-too-familiar gleam in her eye, "Tch. I bet you though you'd seen the last of me." Clearly using his own vocal stylings to mock him. Unafraid. Almost... excited.

"He is claiming credit for things that he did not do," Jaenelle says loudly, hand lifting towards Alistair when his blade is pulled free from its holding. "Not yet," she tells the man before he can rush forward.

Esera rises from her throne, and the light from the marble follows with her. Clings to her, like the touch of a hundred fingers. She stares down at Malrico, shoulders squared -- and then, imperiously, holds one gloved hand out to him. In temptation. In invitation. But the whispered hum of the room is wildfire, is devouring flame, and the sweet turn of her wrist seems just the first blush of inferno.

Artorius checks composure at daunting. Artorius fails.

Berenice has been long silent, keen in her study of Malrico and Esera. But now, finally, she rises from her seat, and her voice is warm. "Safe, I am sure, as you placed them for so very long, my lord," she tells him with a soft smile. "What need you a sudden collection? They have their keepers, and you your kingdom. Is that not so?"

Watcher checks composure at daunting. Botch! Watcher fails completely.

Maerigan has joined the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

Alistair doesn't charge, but he certainly is ready to do so. Eyes are wide and unblinking, focused entirely on Malrico, as if not wanting to miss even the slightest shift in movement. The creature at his heels has dug his claws into the very expensive hall rug below the raised dias of the throne. He seems to hold as Jaenelle states.

"No!" the word echoes, matching the volume Malrico's own, and the veiled woman has turned from him to point a slender finger at Isolde as she crumbles to the floor. "No. Stand up. Do not give him this." There's a command behind her powerful words, but there's also something familiar in them - something Isolde would recognize. The voice long lost, destroyed by the golden-eyed man standing at the center making the demand for rings that were never his to begin with. The hand lifts to the veil and she pulls it free. Beneath, the unmistakable image of Carlotta, captured in so many paintings that hang in House Velenosa's halls. Her lips curve into that sardonic smile of old, and her amber eyes shoot back to Malrico. "And me," she echoes Eleyna's sentiment, as the ghosts of Malrico's sins rise.

Arman checks composure at hard. Arman is successful.

Saoirse sits up suddenly and whips around, eyes scanning for --- something. She looks at her father, then back again, then up at Malrico et all.

Arman stands up as Berenice does and seems about to speak but as the veil is pulled away he reaches a hand out to steady himself on Baldessare's shoulder, "Cousin..." Is all he can manage.

It's only the echoing command that prompts Isolde's face to snap up, tears in her eyes as she attempts to absorb all that she's learned. The woman's face has her breath catching, the words struggling to leave her lips. "Mother..." She scrambles to her feet. "Mother. I didn't know. I swear." There's a look of pure betrayal as her gaze drifts to Malrico.

Artorius who was just trying to innocently find comfort at the couches in the Black Fox, he drops his flask after his hand gives a shake and the thing spills out all around the floor around him. He sucks in his breath and looks like he's trying to steady himself.

Unlike most others in the room, Keely's eyes are firmly fixed on her lap, where her gloved hands are folded tightly, tense shoulders lifted slightly in a protective posture. Eventually she just closes her eyes altogether, and sinks a little further down into her seat.

"Eleyna..." Alarissa's paler than she even normally is and she takes a step forward from the others, as if she might step forward but stops, remaining back with the Thraxians. The alaricite arm shifts just a little against her side as her mouth opens and closes like some fish. So ungraceful.

Baldessare reaches up to place his hand atop Arman's, remaining in his position so as to continue to offer what support his uncle may require. His gaze locked in the interplay between the figures.

Raven looks...alarmed and entirely lost. She SHOOTS Baldessare a look and there's a flicker of relief but then she watches Isolde and there's a grimace, "Oh, no." she fishes out a steelsilk scarf. She grumbles to Corban, "Not unless it's generally inconvienant. Likewise for people refusing to die."

Nina gasps in astonishment at the dramatic reveal! ...This is because, however, she's still entirely convinced that this is a play, and that this is the right and appropriate thing to do. Though it is a remarkable likeness of a painting she's seen.

It's a curious thing to start out somewhere and end up somewhere else. Equally disconcerting to recognize family, and painful history, standing - dropping - emerging - within a crowded hall. Caprice's quiet entry comes to a halt as the woman wraps up into a stunned silence.

Golden eyes flicker to Sylvie and then to Berenice, "The simpering sylv'alfar that believes himself a god has moved up time tables, it seems. One must need adjust with it, and so I need the rings. But never fear, my sweets." There's another flash of that shark-like smile, as he moves to place his hand in Esera's, "Greed is far, far stronger than any chains ever forged by any god, Horned or otherwise."

Something causes Isolde to place a hand on her ears, shaking her head, before her gaze returns to Malrico. "Is this what my /destiny/ was? Collecting your rings?" There's barely concealed fury in her voice. "-This- is what you were preparing me for?"

"You are smarter than this," Cesare calls out. "You are /better/ than this. You are a /legend/, Malrico Pravus, your cleverness and manipulation renowned by all, the very set piece on which the stage of the Lyceum turns. If you take the rings and reclaim the throne now, it will all crumble under Legion's chains. It cannot be done now. It /must not/ be done now. The diamonds must stay hidden, and they must stay hidden under your protection. If he has those rings, it is all over for /all/ of us. Under the rule of Legion, there will be no greed, because none of those the Slaver chains feel any emotion. None at all. Not even Avarice. I've /seen it./"

There is a lot of drama unfolding and from the back Calista calls out to Malrico, casually, in a familiar way. "Your rings? No. Covet's bounty, then 'ours'. But never, ever /yours/. We were never -yours-."

"It's... it's... " Artorius breathes out as he his hands roll into each other, shifting like he was suddenly restless, like he was on the edge of crying? Maybe crying, if crying means that veins flex on his temple.

Monique checks composure at daunting. Monique marginally fails.

Saoirse looks from Isolde to Malrico. Somewhat quietly, she adds, "And to be devoured?" in much the same tone as Isolde's query.

"You once told me that you could never act to destroy yourself, even if I wished it," Sylvie reminds Malrico, her gaze sliding pointedly towards Carlotta, to Esera, and then finally, finally to Eleyna and lingering there for a moment. Then she looks back to Malrico, pointedly. She folds her hands simply in her skirts and falls silent, to let the rest unfold as it will.

Watcher draws in a breath that sounds more snarl than air, lifts her head just enough to look toward Cesare with a narrow eyed glare, and manages a sudden, sharp, "/Shut the fuck up/," that's not so much loud as insistently present.

Alistair continues to watch Malrico, his eyes shifting to follow the hands and the joining with Esera. He circles slightly and slowly, waiting for some sign or some movement of ill intent and aggression. His gaze taking him around so he can keep others at risk in his view.

Raven groans in the wake of Cesare's grand standing. An outright facepalm, "Oh, for fuck's sake."

Esera twines her fingers through Malrico's, draws him close enough that he could feel her breath upon him. Her cheek brushes his, lips a dragonweep whisper at his ear, "You made me hungry, too." Smoke twists around her wrist. Around his. Gathers around them both, pulls him closer to her still. "You devoured them," she says. Her grip tightens on his hand. "YOUR TURN."

Monique's gaze arrows in on Calista at her words. But she doesn't move. There's not a step taken towards Malrico or Esera.

Denica stands near Alarissa, keeping an eye on the other woman, though the crust of her attention is on the room. There are moments her eyes go wide, her expression displays a myriad of emotions, each one clear but all together, they are just a messy mix. Shoulders tense, hand on some weapon no doubt, she stands, quiet, observant, small, measured breathes, in and out.

Arman stares at the ghosts of his family, his cousin Carlotta and his nieces Eleyna and Esera in turn he seems lost in a reverie before his eyes widen as Esera fastens her grip on Malrico.

"You may thank the Reaper for this," Eleyna bows her head toward Esera, her form becoming more substantial as she draws closer, moving as if to protect her cousin. When Malrico and Esera lock hands, the White Lily laughs in delight and says in a tone thick with laughter, "Looks like your sins have come back to haunt you, Malrico. You should have never killed -us-."

Pasquale watches the events with intense interest. He glances briefly at Monique as she arrows in on Calista. He studies Monique for a moment, then Calista and then his gaze goes back to the Princesses who claim to be dead. Taking in the details.

Genevra remains on her knees, watching the proceedings with a grim, satisfied smile on her face, her eyes locked on Esera and Eleyna, and Malrico between them.

Carlotta offers Isolde no further comfort in this moment, because Esera locks hands with Malrico. Eleyna laughs, and the beheaded Archduchess joins in. There's an unhinged delight there, and the sound of her laughter is even more disturbing without the veil to mask it. She moves, too, a shield to whatever plans Esera has, ready to use what power she has in this form to protect this daughter, too. To protect the Lycene.

"She realized it." Malrico hisses angrily while glaring at Eleyna. "She suspected." He glares at Carlotta. "-Ghosts-. Mortals can never stay dead as they wish. The Lyceum has ALWAYS been so very..." And then tendrils of smoke are moving from Esera, and for once in a great many, many years, Malrico looks shocked, as his words are cut off mid sentence. There's a shriek of pain, and the sound is nothing that a human could have made. It's an ear splitting sound that causes the windows of the hall to suddenly burst outwards.

And then the unremarkable looking man doesn't look unremarkable at all. Or like a man. Not even a little.

Where Malrico was standing, he has begin to shift and grow, his form changing to be something considerably less human as he boils upwards, limbs becoming miss-shapen and dark, covered in scales that shine with silver and gold, dancing with shadows. Human legs have become trea stump sized hooved feet made of gigantic gemstones, as Malrico grows into a massive horned beast. "YOU DARE? I WILL CONSUME ALL HERE! I WILL FEED ON YOU ALL!" Malrico's shadow was oddly not changing with him, staying the size of a normal mortal man, when it... begins to break. Like ice starting to fracture, and then it shatters with dark pieces of shadow covering the ground. A guard screams as one shadow fragment imbeds in him, and a writhing little creature comes out. All the shattered shadow fragments on the ground follow suit, tiny several foot tall versions of the now monstrous demon, hissing and hungry looking with greedy eyes towards all in attendence. And they all rush to attack.

Jaenelle has joined the an elegant pair of marble thrones.

Alistair's eyes widen at the transformation. The workings of the abyss are truly horrifying in that magnimity and twisted nature that they reflect. Something that was once human is now not. Alistair was going to command Thomas to go for the legs... but now the legs are... not legs. The blade is pulled free and Alistair charges forward without further hesitation. "Thomas, from behind. Let us test its vision. Watch the horns." Alistair rumbles in a terse and direct order to the little animal companion who is not little in any way. "Confessor Denica, remove those who are at risk!" He shouts before he takes the final step towards the beast.

Isolde calls out to her husband as he makes his way to the beast. "Alistair!!" She shouts, alarmed at his actions, but she doesn't do anything but shuffle away from the greedy monsters in the hall.

"You could have had a little bit of us," Esera says, and there is something of a gentle remorse in her voice, an old ache. "Just a tiny piece of us. A single breath, or a beat of our hearts. You could have had a kiss, or a touch. But you -- YOU -- you had to have ALL OF US. EVERYTHING. You. Took. EVERYTHING."

She holds on to him. To this beast. Massive though he is. Horrible and horrifying and hungry. She holds on, and the shadows gather around them, and they are bound together in terrible darkness.

Leaping up from his seat and drawing his sword, Baldessare immediately moves to try to place himself between the creatures and his sister and uncle.

Keely checks composure at daunting. Keely marginally fails.

Sylvie wields an elegant rapier.

Raven's head lifts when Malrico bitches about mortals and actively cackles. Like Crazy finally been let out of timeout, "FINALLY!!!" She rolls her good shoulder, nevermind the arm in the sling, "About. Fucking. TIME! About TIME I get to make something BLEED already." her verdant gaze glistening. She tugs on her scarge, shrugs on her coat and loosens her sword.

"Of course. Of course," Dante mutters as he reaches for the alaricite blade at his side, drawing the Edge of Perdition and leaping forward to interpose himself between the many little Malrico-demons and his patron, Saoirse. "So. I'd get out of here if you can, Your Highness. I'm thinking swinging books and making your ever pleasing witty comments won't do much here, I'm afraid."

Dante wields The Edge of Perdition, rose-warded alaricite longsword.

Jaenelle slides into her chair as everything unfolds. "For someone who wanted everything, you didn't even send me a single letter. Six years and nothing. I'm not angry, just disappointed."

Dante has left the Seating for the Lyceum.

Dante has joined the Seating for the Voices of House Velenosa.

..oh now.. Now this is.. Emerald eyes widen, and then her hand is slipping down to pull free a diamondplate-- two diamondplate daggers. Why does someone like her have diamondplate daggers? She's been working her way towards the front, and now she looks ready to pounce.

Saoirse takes a clumsy step back from the shadows, positioning herself behind Baldesarre and Dante. "Yes, I don't think snappy repartee is in high demand right now," she says lowly.

Auda looks ready to pounce, that is.

The hall is crowded and there is panic, surely, now. Sylvie looks to Cesare and then brandishes a rapier, though it is clear that she does not know how to use it. She tells Cesare, "We should look for a safe path."

Cesare wields Discretion, a simple but effective alaricite blade.

Auda wields clever diamondplate dagger with poppies across the guard.

Monique stares around the throne room as weapons start popping out all over the place. But her hands remain at her sides, hesitant, torn. Choices not yet made.

Tove pressed back against the wall, arms reaching up to cover and protect her head, the moment the windows shattered, but her attention shifted, and her expression morphed entirely from one of shock to one something more akin to jaw-dropping horror, as the figure of Malrico transformed.

Baldessare wields Shadows of Dawn, a rubicund calvary-styled saber.

Alistair wields Watcher, a diamondplate sword.

The First Captain, Corban Telmar, is, first out of all things, a bodyguard. And so when the various smaller demons appear, the bodyguard goes to guard, taking stock of the situation and drawing his alaricite longsword, simple yet, sharp, his steelsilk cloak his only real armor. But he moves towards the marble thrones, to defend the High Lord(?) and repel the attackers.

Corban wields a simple and unadorned sword, polished and sharp.

Calista wields The Thorn of Tor.

Artorius is staring at the transformation and while his focus is intense and getting more and more intense as the seconds pass, possibly his face turning red, and his fists flexing as his hand moves for a weapon, it's Maerigan who gets over toward him before something shatters completely, before he can howl with disdain at the horned beast before them. His eyes flicker toward Maerigan and something makes him nod from what she said.

Udell's eyes widen at the sight of Malrico's change, looking over to Keely and tugging at her hand while saying with an urgent tone in his voice, "Your Highness, I'm thinking this is not the best place to be remaining for now."

Raven wields Blackheart Halfmoon Blade.

Dolmen, a prodigal agent arrives, following Harlex.

Keely was not watching, so when chaos erupts and she opens her eyes, her face drains of all color and she sways slightly in her seat, looking around numbly and seeming to have a difficult time processing what she is seeing. She seems frozen in place while everyone rises and draws weapons, but once Udell speaks she sucks in a breath and nods briskly, scrambling to her feet to follow where he tugs.

Nina checks composure at hard. Nina is successful.

Denica wields honey onyx encrusted stygian veined filigree diamondplate fighting claws.

Cesare has clever hands, and the glint at his hip reveals itself to be a gleaming alaricite dagger, which he holds with confidence. But it's probably not earned confidence, and he nods to Sylvie. "I've got your back," he offers. "We should - gather others -"

"Denica. My arm..." Alarissa's looking on in horror at what's going on, the little miniature creatures and looks to Denica. "Unhook the arm. UNHOOK THE ARM, UNHOOKTHEARM" shrugging her left shoulder as if trying to loose the alaricite that's hooked into place there.

Arman looks instinctively to his daughter Saoirse and gives a short nod of a satisfaction as Dante rushes over and Baldessare stands ready. He looks to Berenice next and moves to gather her to his side behind Baldessare.

The Thrax Princess hears her name, shoulders tense and vivid blue eyes go wide. This was the time that Denica Thrax was serious, alert and focused. Alistair's order is heard, processed and the little princess was ready to implement. Taking out a weapon, she stands on her tip-toes, heels lifting off the ground and her eyes narrow. Denica is loud, she draws her weapon and shouts. "Anyone that cannot fight, shouldn't fight, gather with me!" It's not a suggestion, she's decisive and forceful with her words. The princess looks around, not entirely sure what to do next and so she is standing, shouting and formulating a plan. A hand lifts up, trying to make herself known over the chaos, dressed in a black painter's smock, looking for the best place to gather and lead people.

Pasquale takes a half step back as the creatures burst out of Malrico and the guard messily dies. His entire stance straightens as his hand automatically goes to the hilt of his sword but then he glances to Monique and switches his hand to the stock of his crossbow instead. For the moment he is not drawing. Perhaps hoping to avoid attention. At least for a bit.

Can Calista fight? No. But she has a Diamondplate dagger she slips from her garter and wields it enough to defend herself and others around her. Adrenaline courses through her veins. The call of an Ancient Voice banging on her soul to be set free.

Raven wields Requiem, a gleaming alaricite halfmoon blade with a shadowmeld grip.

Raven wields Blackheart Halfmoon Blade.

Nina looks up and watches with a bit of sparkle in her eyes. "Oh, the effects are really quite good, aren't they!" she says. At this point, it's clear that it's got to be an act. But yet she manages to keep her cool through all of this happening, only looking somewhat shocked as people start getting up from their seats and drawing blades. Denica says something about how people who can't fight should get back, so, Nina hops to her feet and scampers AWAY from all the bad things happening. But not far enough away that she can't at least watch.

It's with an abrupt shifting that Tovell breaks from lingered place near the rear of the seating to shift with Corban toward the fore of the hall, his brother's stocker and much more plate-clad shadow. Cleaver of Waves sheds her peacebond to glitter drawn in hand. He shakes his head, trying to clear ringing ears. There's nothing found worn on the Knight's face but naked rage: Demons, here? A problem must be resolved.

Artorius is looking toward someone as if someone talked to him directly, when it's clearly no one else around him. "I need to go..." he exhales toward Maerigan.

Tovell wields Cleaver of Waves, the tempest hued diamondplate longsword.

Sylvie nods towards Denica as the princess shouts, some relief suffusing her face for the direction the Thraxian princess is providing. "There," she breathes out towards Cesare, but doesn't move quite yet towards her. Instead, she also gestures towards Calista. "The duchess, first, and then--." Who knows.

Awful lot of racket coming from the audience hall. Harlex moseys down into the room from the east wing and stops, just stops very calmly as he studies the creature and then everyone else. He really shouldn't skip these sorts of things. His hand settles on the scabbard of his sword, not yet drawn. His eyes immediately search for Berenice, above all else.

Denica would indeed have helped Alarissa on her way, unhooking the arm and handing it to her with a whispered word, before she is off gathering people.

As Esera makes her play and Malrico shifts, all the humor drains from Eleyna's face and she turns, her back to the two now shrouded in darkness. She eyes the chaos as if sizing it up. As the smaller imps wreak havoc through the crowd, the mirrors in the room start to crack and ooze darkness. Eleyna, strangely seeming more substantial the longer that Esera holds on to Malrico, turns into a shadow herself, whipping lighting face before the mirrors and, as she lays her hands on the demons that emerge, hisses in triumph as their very essence, like smoke, permeates her form and she grows stronger, more able to take on the next demon that dares to slide through the mirrors and join the fray.

Harlex wields the whisperer of names.

1 Malespero Guard arrives, following Macario.

Pasquale murmurs a few words to Monique "Gladly." he says louder now as he slips into a position just off Monique's shoulder. "I'm far stronger with the bow than the sword." he lowers his voice again to add a few more words.

The sound of a familiar voice above the chaos-- or below, rather, Denica is quite short after all-- has Keely pulling at Udell's hand instead toward the call until she finds the Thraxian princess, breathless and looking to the smaller woman for guidance out of danger.

Overhearing Denica's call, Udell is led by Keely, his attention called to the din every so often.

Isolde checks charm and seduction at hard. Isolde is marginally successful.

Maerigan looks toward Artorius with her strange, coal eyes and gives him a single nod. Then, she reaches down and draws a nondescrept stiletto blade from her boot which she flips round twice and lets dance round her long, spindly fingers to find the perfect backward grip on the handle. She steps between Artorius and the chaos and begins to usher him out. At his heels, her trash cat nudges him along.

And now, Berenice's breath truly stills, caught thick in her throat as her eyes widen, tracking up, up, up as Malrico grows into this creature. Even as Baldessare inserts himself between her and danger, she cannot take her eyes off of Malrico. That is, until some innate sense draws her gaze, and there is Harlex. Her sword. Her hand. Her everything. And from her vantage at the table of the Voices of Velenosa, she calls to him: "I want his head."

Berenice checks charm and seduction at hard. Berenice is successful.

Saoirse checks charm and manipulation at hard. Saoirse is successful.

Alistair checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Alistair is successful.

Nina checks charm and performance at hard. Nina is successful.

"Don't let them deter you, love. Just like any mook with a spear." Isolde's voice is warm, encouraging as she addresses her husband.

Alarissa checks charm and manipulation at hard. Alarissa marginally fails.

Jaenelle checks charm and manipulation at hard. Jaenelle is successful.

Macario had an entire evening planned. Candlelight dinner. Maybe a moonlight walk. It's the day of his birth, he's been partying quite a bit. I mean, not too much, he's sober (relatively) at the moment. It took him a while to get through all the weather. Plus, the people running. Certainly there was people running. Anyway, he's tall and hard to miss, and he picks his way through the crowd before he enters the estates. There happens to be a goblet of wine in his hand, the overcoat hangs long protecting him from the wind. He squeezes through a few more people running by, and makes his way into the audience hall. He'd stand by the door, but seems the party is hitting that critical point of running away from demons. Macario steps to the side. The goblet dropped, he jogs closer in, looking for familiar faces.

Calista scans those who are known to be elite fighters. She slides up behind Corban and whispers to him, soft, enchanting, tantalizing.

Calista checks charm and seduction at hard. Calista is successful.

"Monique!" Cesare shouts over to the Minx where she stands frozen. He raises his blade, points it toward the imps. "This is it - this is the moment!" Whatever that means.

Maerigan has left the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

Artorius has left the Seating for the Lyceum.

Ezekiel the Crownlands Shepherd, 2 Sea Rover Bodyguards leave, following Artorius.

Shotzey, winner of Arx's Ugliest Dog Competition, Jack, a scrappy trash cat, Artorius leave, following Maerigan.

Cesare checks charm and seduction at hard. Cesare is successful.

"Go" Alarissa encourages sorrel even as her right hand has left her pocket and it's now curled around a very intricately carved wrist of a false arm. "Go protect the others. I'll... give anything a hand that comes near me." Though she sounds far from sure about this and barely, if at all, seeming to keep it together as she urges Sorrel out to do what she does best.

Arman checks charm and manipulation at hard. Arman is successful.

"Eleyna, I am glad-- you eventually claimed it," Sylvie calls out across the crowd to Eleyna, finally, finally talking to the woman for the first time in over a decade with a soft, regretful smile.

Sylvie checks charm and diplomacy at hard. Sylvie is successful.

Auda checks dexterity and small wpn at hard. Auda marginally fails.

Sir Corban Telmar throws himself into the fight, bringing his alaricite sword flashing in the light of the audience hall, looking to swing the perfectly-crafted blade down into the terrible beasts that seek to rush the throne. As one does.

Raven checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Raven is successful.

Standing before Saoirse with his longsword held in both hands, the alaricite blade gleaming in whatever light there is in the hall, he waits for whatever comes his patron's way to cut it down - or at least try to do so, a curl of utter disgust on his lips. "Your Highness, perhaps give them a wicked taunt and I shall find it quite amusing."

Corban checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Corban is successful.

Tovell checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Tovell is successful.

Harlex checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Harlex marginally fails.

Sorrel draws her sword to put herself between the demons and where Alarissa and Denica are gathering the noncombatants, the light glinting in her green eyes and along the length of her alaricite sword, Anthem. "FOR HONOR! FOR VALOR! FOR THE COMPACT AND THE LYCEUM!" she calls out across the room.

Sorrel checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Sorrel fails.

Raven's chin lifts and she bellows, "You lot picked the WRONG City on the WRONG day!" She flicks a glance to PAsquale, "You get injured I will mock you." she strides fowards towards the imps, lips splitting from her lips in a feral grin, "Let's go say hi!" She declares as she seeks the first imp.

Baldessare checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Baldessare is successful.

Alistair and Thomas cross paths, as if they have probably practiced this maneuver for months and months and months and FINALLY they have a proper demon to use it on. Isolde's inspiration causes Alistair to slide his hand further on the guard, raising the blade high as he tries to cut through imps towards his true target. He glances towards her for a brief moment, hoping to see some guards pull her to safety before he turns back and focuses on the coming battle. He charges towards the once form of Malrico, the twisted abomination that is now in his proper form, the vile creature that has cause so much pain for his married family.

Genevra checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Genevra is successful.

As Eleyna sweeps about mirrors and becomes more and more solid by the moment, -Genevra- is finally standing. She draws Pathway from its sheathe, slams her free hand into her chest with an loud series of thumps. "GUARDSMEN!" she calls to those still in the room. "DEFEND THE LYCEUM!"

As the smoke swirls, Carlotta, too, gains 'life,' or the closest she can get to it. Her skin flushes with color, and her form becomes stronger, more ready to take on the threat that descends on the hall. She inhales the smoke, letting it fuel her, and while Esera retains her grip on Malrico, she turns and glides toward Isolde, her feet touching the ground not out of necessity. An imp crosses her path, and with a shriek and a slash of a long-nailed hand, she singes the beast and sends him spiraling back. At Isolde's side, her amber eyes move on Alistair first, and then back to her own blood. She touches her daugher's cheek, and immediately Isolde can feel the power pulse through her. The essence of a mother to a daughter, empowering her with the righteous need for vengeance. "Take your revenge, Isolde. Take back what he took from you - your power." She leans in, and a ghostly kiss is pressed to cheek, the warmth of love mixing with the chill of her ghostly presence.

Arman stands behind Baldessare speaking quietly, "This is our home, Nephew. Please show the uninvited guests out. I have no doubt this is quite within your abilities, hmm?"

Nina does have a weapon by her side, if she had to defend herself. It was a long walk from the lowers. But since she'd RATHER not try to stab a creature with her fairly soft hands, she instead lets out a little cheer and whoop and tries to inspire those who are more likely to do so. She's watching Raven, who, after all, is a friend, and whose combat skills Nina holds in high regard. "Ah, stick it to them! All of you! You'll put on a spectacular performance! Remember to dodge, and weave! I can grab a lute and begin with the proper timing!" She begins to reach for one, as, dramatic music is of course, of utmost importance in a demon battle.

Genevra wields Pathway.

Monique glances to Cesare and there's the weight of many worlds in those emerald eyes. She chews at her lip, torn for a moment longer and then her chin sets. As swift as a whisper, for the Softest Whisper, a dagger appears in the Minx's right hand. A black dagger. "For Covet."

Monique gets The Last Caress from the secret places on Monique's body where weapons hide.

Monique wields The Last Caress.

Throne protection runs in the blood, it seems. A rubicund-clad Silver Sword cleaves from the crowd and into the frothing mass of imps, diamondplate blade swinging. He isn't saying anything smart; he just looks angry, reeeeeal angry.

Macario wields Levante, golden blush of dawn steel dagger.

"Without a doubt, Uncle," replies Baldessare as he sets himself to form a wall between the imps and his family.

Udell looks over and sees Raven, his face regaining his grin before he calls out, "End them and try not to make me have to watch over you after!"

Monique checks dexterity and small wpn at hard. Monique is successful.

Yuri wields a diamondplate rapier with blackened swept hilt.

Udell checks command and empathy at hard. Udell is successful.

Jaenelle moves from a sitting position to a standing one, rising to her feet on the throne. She is the Archduchess, just as much as Carlotta, or Esera, or Eleyna. All three of these women have shaped her in some way, and she is just as much a product of them as she is of herself. When she spots Harlex, there is a nod if her head, an unspoken approval to go stabbing things. Then her eyes shift towards Berenice, seeking to make sure she is okay.

Pasquale checks dexterity and archery at hard. Pasquale fails.

Auda springs in to action as the shards become imps become fighting! She lashes out, but doesn't quite hit her mark. Was that a moment of hesitation, or just.. maybe she's not used to fighting shadow creatures? Likely.

There's a look of pure relief on Isolde's face as her husband deftly slays the imps in his way. This changes of course, when her mother approaches, startling her at first. And then, there's a pang of pain as she dwells on the hurts of her past. "Mother..." Her eyes close when she feels the power coursing through her and when they open again, her dark gaze lands on Malrico. The pain is replaced with fury and suddenly and she's heading forth. "You've USED me!" She lets out a shriek and with it a blast of light expels from her form, burning an imp in her way to ash, sending another flying back and slashing another in half.

As Carlotta gives Isolde the power to take back so much that was taken from her, Eleyna guards the mirrors as the others in the audience hall deal with the imps. If anything dares to step free of them, she is on them in a flash, shadowy tendrils wrapping around them, devouring them. There are no mad cackles or any pithy insults. She is cold and calculated and utterly brutal as she systematically destroys those shadowed entities one by one, buying her precious Esera more time. The only sign of emotion she displays is when she raises that curiously husky voice to call back to Sylvie in return, "I only had to die to claim it!" Another demon dares to step from a crack in a mirror and the White Lily is on him in a second, both protector and predator as she feeds until she starts to look nearly... alive.

It's utter chaos. Macario has barely a chance to wield his dagger, but he's in no way moving forward on the offensive. Instead, he's doing his best to find someone to help (OOC: Need a boost, uh, page me).

Denica is comfortable doing crowd control. It's an easy shift and she continues helping those that are trying to get out, and gathering those that cannot. Looking at the people that are gathering around her, she is working with Alarissa to keep everyone gathered. Her expression is stoic, there is a calm in her voice. With chaos around her, Denica seems calmer. "Let's stick together,!," she says wearing an uneasy smile, in a fit of frustration she kicks off her heels. Bare foot, the princess is able to move easier, she moves like a dancer, graceful but with purpose. Everything that's happening has an effect on her, but she pushes the emotions back and continues to bring those that need it together. "We are all stronger than we think and we are as strong as we want to be," she murmurs to those that might need a little encouragement.

Corban seems inspired and Calista moves to the next fighter. A whisper here a tender caress there. She shares the same soft words with each fighter...

Pasquale shadows Monique with his crossbow in his hand attempting (with questionable success) to support her in this fight. At least she knows her back is somewhat protected.

Any step the lord had taken inevitably led him to the threshold of the Velenosan Estate. And already, Yuri Tessere could see chaos when he breached the veil of the fog that obscured many's vision. Whatever moment was taken to settle his nerve was abated as chaos erupted around him, though the maneuver to brandish his steel was quick and quiet, lingering where he could to assist those in need.

Saoirse lifts her face, hand still twined into her father's. Her gaze is cold. Her jaw steeled. She leans toward Dante and whispers, "You need no help from me," and nothing more. And yet -- isn't that just the right thing to say? She stares at some of the imps, furious and cruel.

Blue, a cantankerous western bluebird arrives, following Gael.

Caprice checks charm and streetwise at hard. Caprice is successful.

In the flickering shadows, in the sudden chaos of demons and the rush to both attack and defend, there's a sound set against the cacophony that is very clearly a deep, rumbling growl.

Keely checks charm and empathy at hard. Keely fails.

Dante checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Dante is successful.

As she waits for Denica to finish gathering those unable to fight, Keely's coffee-dark gaze finds Corban amid the chaos. Should she catch his eye, she musters a soft, encouraging smile that is somewhat tense at the edges, but no less genuine. Probably it is not at all helpful or encouraging for fighting demons.

Not everyone goes for the frontal assault. Sometimes you just have to backstab the creepers. Caprice fumbles something sharp out of a pocket as she skitters for cover, hissing advice to someone as she passes: "Teeth! Watch the teeth! Catch it when it's not looking at you!"

Caprice has joined the Seating for the Duchesses of the Lyceum and their Voices.

Cesare is drifting through the crowd of people, hand still extended. His fingertips graze Monique's only for a moment, but the contact is like a spark of lightning, and his eyes are dark as the depthless Black Sea on a moonless night, but simultaneously somehow hold the reflection of every source of light in the room. Heavy as a touch, soft as a caress. "For Covet," he agrees.

Caprice gets a rondel dagger with a wire-wrapped ebony hilt from a pocket or a bag somewhere.

Caprice gets a steel lute string attached at both ends to a peg from a pocket or a bag somewhere.

Caprice wields a rondel dagger with a wire-wrapped ebony hilt.

Pasquale wields a sleek rubicund reinforced crossbow.

Denica checks charm and empathy at hard. Denica is successful.

A bulk of blackened leather and anger bundles, punches and shoulders through the masses; first slowly, then increasingly quick as screams and desperation abound. Then, from out the bulk of peoples unfurls free a shining blade, attached to its shadow Gael, his violently sneering visage obfuscated beneath the shadowy loom of his hat as he charges in. There is an ungainly, beastly nature to his movement: his shoulders sag, body slumps, Flamestrike's tip drags across the ground and sparks flare with each rebound off of the harsh stone. Once within range of anything unnatural, he starts swinging.

Macario checks charm and manipulation at hard. Macario fails.

Raven calls after Udell, "No promises, Archlector! fear not! I HAVE GOT THIS!" and she gleefully swings her sword with a soft grunt,m freeing her left arm from her sling proving the arm itself is fine-if noticeably weaker than the other, her eyes gleaming bright with murderous glee.

Jaw clenched, Dante hears Saoirse's words of encouragement - simple as they are, they're all he needs to hear. A hateful, furious glare builds in his mossy eyes as the Marquis stands ready for any demonic interlopers to come after his patron. When one charges her way, the alaricite longsword held in both hands is given a mighty cleaving swing towards the little bastard with a simple, two word battlecry, "Fuck off!". Apparently he's been spending too much time around the locals in the Roseward.

Gael checks strength and huge wpn at hard. Gael marginally fails.

"You're doing great," Macario offers Gael unhelpfully. That's about as far as he gets before Gael streaks past him on a vengeance path.

Saoirse looks side-long at her protege and that explicative. A beat of consideration passes and she seems to make a choice. "Indeed. Fuck off, indeed." See? Encouraging.

It is total chaos as a horde of shadow imps (or is it hoard when they are manifestations of greed incarnate) all scurry to the attack, little shadowy class flailing and hissing. Several spring at Harlex, who is too busy deflecting to fell one, despite the helpful imploring of Berenice. Pasquale doesn't miss so much as the arrow just cleanly bounces off one of the imps leaping towards him, and he does get bit by tiny little fangs. Alistair is manages to skewer and imp that was leaping right towards Isolde, while his retainer Thomas seems bound and determined to show the High Inquisitor up, literally cutting an imp in half. Auda is wrestling with an imp that is trying very hard to eat her face, and gets a few claws at her person. Sorrel has a little imp jump on her back repeatedly clawing at her, making her struggle with it, while Baldessare clealy cuts down an imp leaping at Arman. Genevra and her guards are cutting down imps on the stairs to the throne, while Monique stabs an imp which just shrivels and turns to black dust. Raven cuts down an imp that decided Nina looked delicious, while Dante holds off several imps and drops one that seemed to be making a remarkedly determined effort to get at Princess Saoirse. Gael is distracted by an imp clambering up his back, but Tovell cuts it off. The imps all hiss and redouble their efforts, even as some are cut down and melt into hissing piles and black bile.

Tove checks charm and medicine at hard. Tove is successful.

Tove checks charm and etiquette at hard. Tove is successful.

Malrico and Esera hold each other in darkness, in shifting smoke. His horns curl and grow -- first from his forehead, then from other places, odd places, the small of his back, the writhing mass of his upper arm. They grow longer and stranger, with a shudder, with a twitch. His mouth opens, and he screams, but that scream is stolen from him, and there is only silence. Could he die here, this Herald of Avarice? Could a thing so terrible and so great be broken? He trembles. The scales of silver and gold that glitter at his trunk-like legs begin to flake off, like dead skin. The end of a Herald. The end of -- no. "NO," he bellows, his voice reclaimed. "YOU. WILL. WANE." He tenses his hand, and though he can't break free of her, he CAN break HER. Her arm crumples in the twist of his grip. She tilts her head, eyes wide, as he reaches around with the other hand, around her waist, in that half-embrace -- and then breaks this, too.

The Archduchess Falls.

Isolde checks composure at daunting. Isolde fails.

Harlex checks dexterity and dodge at easy. Harlex is successful.

Alistair checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Critical Success! Alistair is spectacularly successful.

Corban checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Corban is successful.

Dante checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Dante is successful.

Baldessare checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Baldessare fails.

"Esera!" Isolde having had a bout of ghostly power, snaps her attention away from the imps to her sister as she falls. And she /very unwisely/ makes her way toward the archduchess, heedless of the potential dangers. "Esera." She repeats, maneuvering her way toward the woman.

Genevra checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Botch! Genevra fails badly.

Auda checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Critical Success! Auda is spectacularly successful.

Raven checks dexterity and dodge at easy. Raven is successful.

Pasquale checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Pasquale fails.

Tovell checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Tovell is successful.

Monique checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Monique is successful.

Gael checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Gael fails.

Sylvie's lips fall open, her rapier falling from between her fingers even as Esera does. She also calls out, "Esera!" And then again, yelling towards Malrico, "No! No!" She stops to scoop up her rapier again, before taking steps towards the throne.

Sylvie has left the Seating for Inferior Specimens of the Compact.

After cleaving the little shadow beast leaping for his wife, Alistair snaps his blade towards others who are charging in, specifically those that wear Inquisition colors or heed to the Order. "Confessors. Inquisitors." His blade swings towards the many imp shadows scampering about and causing destruction and chaos, "Strike them down." He shouts out simply as he spins the blade and kicks away another shadow creature. Thomas is having the time of his very long life as it is just like the tunnels and catacombs deep below, seemingly endless demons to tear to shreds which he does so quite effectively with those claws. Alistair drives back into the thick of it, trying to drive towards Malrico as he fells Esera.

Well-fed and full of 'life', or whatever it is that she has drained those shadows of, Eleyna gluts herself on the absolute feast that the demons of the Abyss are providing as they rush from the other side of the mirror to try to protect one of their own. She doesn't watch as Malrico starts to crumble. She can -feel- him losing, taste his death in the back of her throat and it is -sweet-. But then there is the shift as Malrico, in desperation, starts to break Esera. She hisses like something feral and abandons the mirrors to rush the throne, her fury apparent on a face that is flushed with her rage. She cannot allow Malrico to shatter Esera as she was shattered, broken until finally that valiant heart in such mortal flesh gave out. But now, there are no ties to mortality. No mortal flesh to bend and break and shatter. Only ties to the Reaper and she will not let her fail...

Genevra checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Genevra is successful.

In the shadows and the battle and the blood, there's a snarl that builds to a howl and something, /something/ man-sized and white furred plunges into the horde of imps. Sharp teeth dig into one, clench tightly, and the wolf - is that a wolf? - shakes its head furiously before letting go at the height of the swing. The imp, or imp pieces, hit the far wall with a wet splat.

Pasquale checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Pasquale is successful.

Sir Corban, though he was not mentioned in the set pose, strikes down one of the imps skittering across the floor with his alaricite blade, the clean silver metal cutting into the ichor and slicing through like a hot knife through ichor. He then leans to the side, light on his feet, to escape the slash of claws. "Lord Sistermander," he greets the High Lord, Jaenelle, as he patrols near the throne for the next threat.

In the shadows and the battle and the blood, there's a snarl that builds to a howl and something, /something/ man-sized and white furred plunges into the horde of imps. Sharp teeth dig into one, clench tightly, and the wolf - is that a wolf? - shakes its head furiously before letting go at the height of the swing. The imp, or imp pieces, hit the far wall with a wet splat.

Carlotta's heart swells as she watches Isolde lash out, using the power she shared. The imps fall, burn, screech in pain, and each death brings the beheaded Archduchess new life. But the pleasure is fleeting, because she feels it - she feels Esera breaking. She feels the power wane just as Malrico desires. She screams, her ghostly voice piercing the noise of combat. She spins in a cloud of spidersilk and she moves with a swiftness to her other daughter's side. To stand as the trio of women he thought he could shatter. Her ghostly palm reaches out to touch Esera...

Nina was getting out her lute, and even strums a few dramatic chords - this is important stuff! It bolsters the heroes! - but then squeals as an imp gets a bit too close for comfort. Fortunately, Raven cuts it down. "Ah, good fighting! See, I knew I could count on you!" Nina gets up on a bench and stands there, as if that will get her out of the way of imps. Maybe it will.

Sorrel checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Sorrel is successful.

"You will not take her!" Isolde cries as she runs toward the throne, again, very unwisely. Her power is waning and she most certainly cannot take out a herald. But she doesn't seem to care. She's lost so much to him already. "Whatever you wanted from me. You will never have it." She kneels near the archduchess, though glances up as her mother reaches out to her.

Out to her sister*

Soon, down comes the untrammeled bundle of rhymeless and reasonless swings that is Gael upon the overall melee. The predictable and easily telegraphed path of his sword lends itself to the Imp's more nimble style, in that they're able to weave, to move, and swerve under these long, these arching oscillations whose path leaves behind a redly, fiery trail given the blade's colored metal. "Argh!" Is Gael's flinching growl as he feels the Impish weight off of his back, and he notices not Tovell's aid this moment as it splits the thing in half. After all, he's rushing to Alistair's aid, to his side.

Raven pivots to evade a retort from one of the imps and responds with a booted heel and lifts her blade but is given the briefest pause in the chaos and looks towards the growling and splatting, "I think the Lycanthrope is a friendly!" for anyone to confirm or deny "Or whatever the hairy messy eater is!"

"Mo!" Cesare calls, watching the black dagger skewer one of the shadow-imps. "Mo - the tiara, the diamond -" it's probably impossible, Esera and Malrico are - were - so wrapped up in each other, but even now, the Softest still has the diamonds on his mind, even as he's standing behind the line of those who are actively fighting against the monstrosities.

They made it simple. She wants his head. She wants blood. Harlex wads into the imps as he makes his way toward the demonic entity at the center of his turmoil. But the little bastards prove an annoyance more than anything to the swordsman. The light gleams off the edge of that Unusual Sword with a burning reddish hue, as if reflecting some unseen flame.

People are fighting and falling; imps are being impaled and vanquished. Calista uses her honeyed persuasion to any and all who might listen. As she slinks behind the cover of guards and those fighting, she presses a hand over her heart as if she were protecting it.

An imp breaks through the line and charges at Baldessare. He primes himself to dodge but realizes doing so, from this angle, will just allow it past him and at his Uncle. He grits his teeth and prepares to absorb the blow - none shall touch Arman while he stands!

Esera lies upon the perfect marble floor, in all its pale beauty. Her waist twists the wrong direction from her legs. Her arm jaunts out, bowed. Her hair trails out in limp, ink black eddies. She is only a dark stain upon that moon white floor.

But now there is Eleyna's hand upon her. Carlotta's. Isolde's. They're all there, aren't they? She turns her head, blinks. Her eyelids move like a limb through water. Slow, slow. "I love you all," she murmurs to them. "I have always loved you all. I'm sorry -- I'm so sorry -- I couldn't save you. Eleyna." She looks over at her, eyes glassy. "I should have saved you." Her head turns the other way. "Mother --"

It's a proper scrum at this point; likely as not, even Tovell misses the fact that it's from Gael's back that he cleaved the clambering imp...

He finds space for a moment's pumped breathing and angles angry eyes toward the shedding Herald and the three ---ghosts?--- who come together to fight back against it. What bears out there draws the figure to pause, his sword's tip falling toward the ichor---and likely blood---splashed floor.

It's all still chaos. Macario arrived late, never quite got into the action. Instead, he tried to help out Gael (oops), but beyond that he's tall enough that he can see past the crowd and draw a safe path through the battle. Whenever given an opportunity, he boosts someone's confidence.

Crossbow bolts aren't supposed to just bounce off things. Pasquale is still trying to deal with that unexpected problem when the imp lauches itself at him and starts trying to chomp through the dubious protection of his cloak. He catches Caprice's words as this struggle continues, waits for its eyes to be elsewhere, and then shoves it away from him in that moment of weakness. He eyes the creature as it recovers from that unfortunately brief discomfort and starts to back up. Trying to build up some range between him and the creature step by step. Theres a moments hesitation when he considers reloading it but recalling what happened with the last bolt decides to instead draw his sword.

Pasquale wields a diamondplate argent cutlass.

And there is a fury, sharp and wild and proud, in the dark of Berenice's eyes. So very unwisely, she even takes a step closer amid the fray. "No, Malrico," she says, nearly trembling with that fire of defiance burning in her. "/You/ will have what you have given my family all these years: you will have no voice. You will have no choices before you. You will understand that we were never yours. And you. Will. Be. /Silent/."

One demon cut down, Dante growls as another tries to get to Saoirse, the determined little hellions. A quick sidestep and he interposes between the two, giving it a shove to the face with the heel of his boot. "Absolutely not. You're not going to get your nasty little claws anywhere near Your Highness, don't get any ideas!" A flash of anger in his eyes erupts at the -very idea- of such a travesty and the alaricite blade prepares for another strike.

"Not like this. This doesn't end like this." Eleyna's voice is cold, inherently commanding. Fierce. There is nothing gentle in her demeanor despite her soft appearance, all blond curling hair and wide blue eyes. She leans in, her form more solid than it has been since the day she died and whispers to Esera, "I don't want to have died for nothing. I died for this moment. I love you. Now get up and FIGHT HIM."

The surviving imps are growing frenzied, in time with Malrico's desperate struggle with the archduchesses of past and present. They are attacking with suicidal frenzy, trying to overwhelm everyone inside the chamber in desperate need to feed upon them.

((Social characters check -first- this round, as you're modifying their attack checks this round. If you succeed, your partners are checking at hard on their attack checks, otherwise it goes up to daunting this round.))

Shrieking in annoyance, Sorrel attempts to get the imp off her back, cheered on by those behind her. It'd almost be amusing if it weren't all so terrifying.

Sylvie is intent on getting closer to Esera and Malrico, her rapier in hand, as she murmurs, "Not again." She calls out to Genevra, commanding her without hesitation, as if she can, "To the throne! Now! Cut through whatever you need to!"

Sylvie checks command and manipulation at hard. Botch! Sylvie fails completely.

Alarissa checks charm and intimidation at hard. Alarissa is successful.

Cesare checks charm and performance at hard. Cesare fails.

"Esera, please." Isolde pleads, blinking away tears, nodding at Eleyna's plea. "He hasn't won. Not yet. If you don't fight him, I will." Another very unwise statement but the fury in her eyes indicates she is serious.

Nina checks charm and performance at hard. Nina fails.

Keely checks charm and empathy at hard. Keely fails.

Caprice checks charm and empathy at hard. Caprice is successful.

Denica checks charm and performance at hard. Denica is successful.

Macario checks charm and manipulation at hard. Macario is successful.

Calista checks charm and seduction at hard. Calista marginally fails.

Jaenelle checks charm and manipulation at hard. Jaenelle is successful.

Udell checks command and empathy at hard. Udell is successful.

One hand gripping his daughters the other extended away from himself protectively as the chaos of battle ensues. Prince Arman winces and ducks reflexively as imps fly toward him but his gaze lands upon the scene before the throne, the twisted body of Esera surrounded by her sister and mother. Time slows for him as he stares in horror, then with a blink he snaps out of it as the imps become frenized. He claps Baldessare on the back, "That's the way. Steady now, nothing here you haven't trained for."

Arman checks charm and manipulation at hard. Arman is successful.

While keeping entirely out of the fray, Tove's gaze is watchful on those involved in the nearby scrum, moving along the perimeter of the throng, offering what encouragement she can.

Tove checks charm and etiquette at hard. Tove fails.

Saoirse checks charm and manipulation at hard. Saoirse is successful.

As the imps become more frenzied, attack with more desperation, the wolf...thing...crouches, bares its teeth, and lunges, eagerly - if such a thing can be read as 'eager' - even deeper into the fray. Its easily lost to sight, though the sounds of snarling and crunching don't fade, and occasionally there's a flash of white, streaked with black blood and increasingly red.

Eleyna speaks the words of Carlotta's heart: Not like this. Carlotta's hand moves to Esera's cheek, cradling her as she cradled Isolde. She doesn't speak - she listens, and her answer comes in that soft hum of the childhood song Esera has heard so oft in her dreams. There's an eerie quiet to the song that mingles with the cacophony of combat, distant and ghostly as the imps and demons fall around the broken Archduchess.

Blue, a cantankerous western bluebird have been dismissed.

From the dubious cover of a fancy chair, then another, perhaps dodging an arc of impish viscera or sidestepping a furiously fighting citizen, Caprice makes her way ever closer to her cousin.

Brilliant green eyes saucer wide, the Clothes Hound calls across to Genevra: "Facing demon or man, our loyalty is -unshaken-."

Corban checks dexterity and medium wpn at daunting. Corban is successful.

Nina:puts a hand to her mouth, gasping slightly at the death that's happening here. She does so want to continue to cheer and bolster the combatants, as the melee grows scarier and they rush all around her. But in her haste to get out of the way of these imps and get to higher ground, she has broken a string on that lute, which... now plucks sadly in her attempt. She tries to defend herself with it at least, but it doesn't help matters much.

2 Laurent trained guards, Cupcake, a cookie girl, 1 Laurent veteran guards arrive, following Mabelle.

Cesare tries to summon up a song of encouragement; his voice rises for a moment - but something black flies at him and it cuts off into a shriek as he flails the thing off himself and kicks it away with an intense boot of one foot.

Gael checks strength and huge wpn at hard. Gael fails.

"Keep them off people Sorrel, that's an order." The Princess Consort of thrax orders the bladesinger, Alarissa herself barely able to keep her hand on the Alaricite arm. She's shaking in fear, tears welling in the womans eyes and tripping over eyelids to streak down her cheeks. But she's moving with Denica, using her hips and that alaricite arm to nudge people to safety and to exits, get them away from the things scampering about, and away from mirrors. She freezes as the furred thing comes into view, pales even further renews the terror filled frenzy of getting people out of there.

Calista, clutching her heart moves to Corban again. As she whispers to him, she groans.. in pain? in pleasure? in regret? She clutches her heart again and draws in a deep breath.

The first time around, Gael ran by so damn fast Macario had the barest of chance to offer a word. This time around, though, Macario manages to kick away a few imps and get in close. "Good run, long stride, nice swing. It was just a fluke, they got in a lucky shot. You got this. They'll be vaporized by that glare alone!" Or something like that. It's a loud battlefield, there are words of encouragement. It's hardly manipulation to tell Gael he's a bad-ass, right?

Berenice checks mana and occult at daunting. Berenice is successful.

Baldessare checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Baldessare is successful.

Everytime the imp moves towards Pasqale, the Malespero Lord gives ground. Step by step, as the fight continues, he retreats towards the edge of the melee. Gradually moving out of the main fight.

Tovell checks dexterity and medium wpn at daunting. Tovell is successful.

Denica sees a face in the crowd and for a moment her features soften, even if her shoulders tense. There isn't much she can do from her distance, but rather she tries to catch their attention briefly, a glance, a look. That's all that is needed. The full thrust of her attention is with Alarissa, moving through the chaos, a little dance in her step.

Alberico, the Malespero aide, Louis, a Malespero Armsman, Mar, the Magpie leave, following Pasquale.

Genevra checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Genevra is successful.

"I am not sure 'sexy' is really what is going to compel me forward in the face of marauding imps," says Corban, sparing a sort of confused look over at Calista as she ... groans ... near him. Although he seems rather concerned for a moment at her clutching her heart, he is quickly drawn back to his world by an imp rushing the throne. The blade comes up, and despite the bad angle, and the speed with which it moves, the First Captain strikes true.

Sorrel checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Sorrel is successful.

Alistair checks dexterity and medium wpn at daunting. Alistair fails.

Raven checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Raven is successful.

Mabelle is not sure what drew her in to the estate in the middle of her work but she's here, looking utterly confused at all the mayhem

Spurred on by Macario's effortless, bolstering charm, the tumbling and charging Gael arrives at Alistair's side almost with an elegant flourish. But it isn't. He violently crashes against Alistair's side instead in the desperation of clashing with an Imp's attack, wherein he parries the devil's claws with the blade and holds it at struggling bay. Face-to-face he is, with the thing; their battle gone from steel-to-bone to more fiendish, spewing declarations as each other's mouth spittle and growl at one another close-by. "High Inquisitor!" Distressed, he calls with a frantic look over his shoulder, his voice lost in the tumultuous din. But he will guard the man -- Alistair's flank is his to die in.

Raven checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Raven is successful.

Harlex checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Harlex is successful.

Monique checks dexterity and small wpn at daunting. Monique is successful.

Yuri checks strength and medium wpn at hard. Yuri is successful.

Genevra gasps as Sylvie's caught the attention of one of the imps, fear flickering through her eyes. But then she catches the words of her kinswoman, of Caprice, and there it is- rubiund-laced steel threads through her spine and Genevra is back at it, sword raise, screaming her defiance. "GUARDSMAN!" she shouts again. "PROTECT THE LYCEUM. OUR LOYALTY IS UNSHAKEN."

In the midst of the chaos, countless warriors are crying our orders and charges. Baldessare in contrast is silent, his blade slicing through the on-coming imps. He makes a quick nod in response to his Uncle's encouragement, his face a mask of focus and concentration.

Dante checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Botch! Dante fails completely.

Jaenelle stares down at Esera, then turns to look at Eleyna, there is sadness in her expression, she has had to lose both of them once already and a second time is no easier. "You promised, Esera. You said you would rip whatever threat came for our family, and your word means something Esera. Get. Up." Then she moves back to watch Harlex, "murder them all, I want each of them dead to put them in the front lawn on pikes. Harlex, take care of this!"

Gael checks dexterity and huge wpn at hard. Botch! Gael fails completely.

Harlex makes his way toward the throne still. Determined to reach his princess and the royal family. An imp, wild and craven and blacker than black, attempts to come between him and his intention. He cuts it apart so fast, there's a moment where it looks aside at him before it splits in a diagonal bisection. Crumbling, dissolving, however demons choose to die. The whisperer of names drinks deeply of its black ichor and the swordsman continues forward.

Alistair reaches out a single hand to grab at the collar of Gael's coat to pull him back before a Imp tries to do its own version of seduction to his face and then releases so that Gael can return to his one on one battle with the other creature. "Slash at them enough and they still die." Alistair rumbles out in a degree of assurance to the Confessor as the melee continues to swirl around them. Was there some wolf creature running around? Of course there was. Thomas bashes two imp heads together and then sets up Gael to decapitate another one of the creatures. The large badger gives an animalistic chortle of approval to the Confessor before he throws himself once more into the thick of it. Alistair presses once more towards the fallen Archduchess and the other women of Velenosa.

Keely is of absolutely no use to anyone at the moment. She barely holds onto her composure enough to keep upright, and just watches dumbly as people and imp pieces fly past her. She slowly backs toward a wall and begins inching along it in the direction of a door, doing as she can to avoid being in anyone's way or stepping in anything Unpleasant.

"Grief is greedy," Esera says, in a rasp, "It eats and it eats. It gnaws the heart hollow."

Malrico does not care. He does not care about grief. He does not care about Carlotta, or Eleyna, or Isolde. He walks straight past them, like he has walked straight past them a thousand times before, like he has walked straight past a thousand others before, because hunger does not care. It is singular in its desire. /Unwavering/. He leans in to rip the diamond from Esera's forehead, and he smiles his shark smile, split ear to ear.

Esera does not look at him. Her glassy gaze is on Carlotta, and then Eleyna. On Isolde, and Berenice. She smiles, lingering. A smile for each of them. Not a shark's smile. A gentle flame. Warming.

"It has never been for nothing," she says. "Generations of loss have not been for /nothing/. Do you see?" She lifts her head, and looks up at Malrico, and her eyes ignite. "I STILL HAVE HIM."

A single string, delicate as the chain of a necklace, unravels from the black diamond he's just stolen, unfurls itself and lashes out to wrap his neck like a noose. He sucks in a sudden, choking breath, as that chain peels away the flesh at his throat, spirals downward, picks him apart spiral by thin spiral.

The power stripped from Malrico gathers in Esera, and she rises. It gathers in Eleyna and Carlotta, and lifts them up, too. It gathers in the spectral image of a hundred -- of a thousand -- ghosts, that lift from the surface of the floor to fill the room with force and fury.

Raven kicks-swings her sword, the side of her face that isn't marred by fading bruises is flushed and her verdant gaze glimmers with a singular murderous glee, she occasionally flicks briefest looks about her to keep somewhat aware of her surroundings but the vast majority of her feverent focus is the firesale of imp-destruction, "C'mon you litttle shits! I

Raven kicks-swings her sword, the side of her face that isn't marred by fading bruises is flushed and her verdant gaze glimmers with a singular murderous glee, she occasionally flicks briefest looks about her to keep somewhat aware of her surroundings but the vast majority of her feverent focus is the firesale of imp-destruction, "C'mon you litttle shits! I'm RIGHT HERE!"

Saoirse watches one particularly gnarly little imp gnashing his teeth and clawing his claws in an effort to get to Saoirse, to get to Dante. The princess narrows her eyes and it seems the very shadows of the room darken with her. "Such games you thought you played. We shall not be devoured." And the imp... he dies.

Auda checks dexterity and small wpn at daunting. Auda is successful.

Despite the encouragement given to him by Saoirse, Dante really screws up. Something goes wrong, really wrong. Not just a normal miss - his sword comes arcing down towards the little demonic creature, but the tip smacks into the side of the bench and careens off to the side as he winces, waiting for the counterattack.

Mabelle's eyes dance all over the room but the vision of the black diamond choking Malrico has her wide eyed, looking to watch where it fell.

A gaze was met across the audience hall by the lord, prompting a swift convergence. Yuri swept through the crowd of fleeing non-combatants, looking to bring himself closer to the fray for some ungodly reason. When an imp stood in his way between a throng of familiar faces and the abyss, Lord Tessere did not hesitate. The cutting slice and strength of the strike caused a sickening rip of the imp that had only the briefest of times to register that the duel had started before it ceased to be in an utter mess on the floor.

Tovell isn't paying much mind to anyone else in the melee once it picks up again, his brief siesta spent considering the ghosts aborted when an imp lept from the scrum toward him; there's a skittered screeching which accompanies the impish claws that scrape rents into rubicund. He responds by plowing into the thickest mass of inky abyssals that his rage-filled eyes can set themselves upon, scraping off that imp as he splits another with his blade. He's far too busy with the mini-demon slaying to pay much mind to----OH, now there are /more/ ghosts???

Esera still speaks which has Isolde giving an exhale of relief, though she doesn't leave her sister's side. Not yet anyway. Not until the string starts to wrap around his neck like a noose and the ghosts fill the hall. Her eyes widen in surprise at this, her gaze cast around the room, before landing on the Herald again. There's no hesitation in Isolde, she rises from where she kneels and makes her way toward him. Her eyes glowing like pale fire as she extends her hands out to him. "Was I /ever/ really favored by him? Or more lies?" She hisses as she continues striding toward his choking form, before blasting him with pale fire, empowered by her mother.

"Was I," Saoirse hisses in response to Esera's question.

The imps are black dust beneath Monique's black blade, the redhead a fiery blur of death as she kills her way towards the throne, a mythical thing in her fury.

Nina screeches, no longer singing, just making a noise of pure shock as ghost things begin to happen. She gathers her skirts up - for all the good it will do. It's not to say of all the other things that are happening around. It's almost too much to bear witness to at this point for one to keep track of.

Eleyna's lips curve into a cold, cruel, calculating smile once she realizes what Esera has done. She rises as bid and draws upon not just the glut of power that she has consumed from the demons she slaughtered, but now from the Reaper herself. This is the moment that she has waited for. The turn of events that began the night that she discovered what Malrico really was and what his plan for the Lyceum was going to be. Her meticulous plan to turn the Lyceum against him. Plans that died with her body. Her fury is an icy thing, as cold as the shadows that she pulls closer to her ghostly form, stealing them across the room. Before she was the White Lily, they called her the Black Widow and now, she earns that name in truth as she wraps those shadows around the part of Malrico that she has claimed for her own. A cocoon of raw power and icy rage. And then, she begins to feed directly from the source. He wants to shatter her and now... now it is her turn to do the shattering.

Gael checks 'permanent wound save' at hard. Gael is successful.

Despite the terrible damage, Gael does not take a permanent wound.

Gael checks 'unconsciousness save' at easy. Gael is successful.

Gael remains capable of fighting.

Dante checks 'permanent wound save' at hard. Dante is successful.

Despite the terrible damage, Dante does not take a permanent wound.

Carlotta's humming fades, the backdrop to Esera's words. There's that smile, sardonic and wise, as her daughter speaks such power. She gives a simple nod for such a world-altering moment, and when the black diamond begins to choke, she rises with the rest. Off the ground she lifts in her cloud of silk, her neck cranes to show the silken ribbon that ties about the scars of the past, the proof that Malrico was once victorious - but not tonight. Tonight is different, with these women standing against that breaking force. Her arms extend, and her own shadows begin to consume Malrico for herself, for her daughters, for her family. She feeds off of him, each delicious ounce of power she draws from his source fueling her own, and fueling the Lycene.

Step by step, Berenice cuts through the fray, skin flushed rose-gold and eyes dancing with darkness. Step by step, as if the cacophony of battle around here does not exist. Spidersilk whispers with every shift of her body, and this might all be some elaborate dance. Step by step, until she is there with her cousins, there before Malrico as the chain winds about his neck. Her gaze is so very clear, so terribly calm and cold, as she reaches for his face. As she lifts hers in turn and brushes her lips to that horrific maw.

"/Hush/," she whispers.

Imp guts shatter near Macario, a passing sword swings nearby, he steps around and through and back as the battle continues. Sure enough, he ducks just in time as another something comes wizzing by. He cheers on Gael, because you know, Macario helped. Gael is his combat buddy. Macario says words of encouragement, and Gael looks really damn cool swinging his sword and getting hurt. Good teamwork. In truth, it's hard to hide that large lithe frame of his. With a knife still drawn, quite defensively, he slinks along toward the back to see any injured.

At all cost, Alistair's flank is kept -- at all cost. The price, paid by Gael himself. Hadn't it been by Alistair's rearranging grip of his collar and twisting of his being, he would've had his face clawed off; hadn't it been for the Inquisitor's preamble of a strike, feint, his Confessor's own riposte would've been a miss. All necessary help, to keep his subordinate from imminent failure, but he couldn't have prevented the third Imp that adds itself to the clashing, the swinging, the battling. From out the frenzied mass cannonballs a singularly raging Imp, punching underneath the Confessor's guard, and then into him.

Gael, or rather his arms, legs, then himself indeed, go off into complete verticality. Punched into a soaring cartwheel far over Alistair's head, then into a cushion of peoples at the back. He sprawls across the ground like a wet and desiccated rag, a splash of his own blood dashing the ground below him as he's pitched against the hard cobblestone on a pile of his own fluids. With a gasp, with a groan, with a breathless moan; Gael is thrown out of the fight, at Macario's feet, eyes shut.

Jaenelle has left the an elegant pair of marble thrones.

12 House Velenosa Guards have been dismissed.

Ibasia, the Velenosa Lady-in-Waiting have been dismissed.

Ellani, the palm sized spider have been dismissed.

Sir Thad Quackington have been dismissed.

Peoni, the cuddle Hedgehog have been dismissed.

The imp that Sorrel was fighting loses its balance, and she brings her sword down upon it with a measure of ferocity. It explodes in a gory mess of imp guts, and she grins viciously, waves to Alarissa in a cheering way, and looks to find more imps to kill or other fighters who need help.

Calista holds up the back wall, hiding between some potted plants. She knows she should leave and take others with her. But she doesn't move. She watches the ghosts of Carlotta and Eleyna, she watches Berenice and Isolde. She watches Malrico with the eyes of one he betrayed thousands of years ago and she smiles from the darkness which seeps across her soul now. Macario enters her periphery and she reaches out to him. "This is their fight, but I need to watch him die."

The ghostly display is majestic, and his sister's bold move to join in the drowning of Malrico is one that will be spoken of for decades or longer. Baldessare sees neither of those, as his razor sharp focus remains on the imps before him. He sees Dante falter at his side and lends an arm to the man if needed. His blade sings as it chops the imps into pieces, maintaining that wall before Arman.

The barefoot princess watching with eyes growing wider every second. Everything around her swirls and she for a moment she freezes and takes in the entirety of it. It's a sight. It's hard not to just stand and stare, find the silence in all the chatter. Vivid blues drift to her Alarissa, the sight of her cousin-by-marriage stirs her back. Denica turns her head over her shoulder, looking around those that try to remain hidden and out of sight, a constant count.

2 Laurent trained guards, Cupcake, a cookie girl, 1 Laurent veteran guards leave, following Mabelle.

Despite being momentarily disoriented from whacking the bench with his sword instead of the imp, Dante manages to recover in time to throw his body in front of the creature and its claws before it can jump on Saoirse - rending the side of the Marquis' abdomen and hip, shredding clothing and flesh into a bloody mess that leaves him gasping in pain, eyes wide. "Gods that hurt!" Still, his sword is up and he's ready to defend the Princess, spitting at the imp. Take that!

Yuri approached from his bout with an imp along to spot Princess Thrax; Denica, as his cowled head quickly surveyed the immediate area and whomever else was still struggling to find themselves out of the audience chamber. His skylit blue gaze trailed off to where most of the attention had drawn itself, before casting an aside to Denica. Some wordless action between a question and comfort.

Arman stands transfixed as the members of his family fall upon Malrico in turn, his free hand curls into a fist but open again uselessly. He sees that his nephew Baldessare as held his ground and done his duty, revealing a path to safety for the Elder Prince, he moves to make his escape tugging as his daugher's hand, hoping she will follow.

Saoirse does follow her father up to the throne, to the cousins and the demon who has haunted them all.

For all his effort of encouragement, Macario manages to find the warrior he was helping literally thrown to his feet. Dead! No wait, not dead. Macario is quick to call for a medic. He goes down on one knee, his hand going to the man's back testing him for a breath. Oh good, breathing, so he doubles his efforts to call for a medic. It's at that time he feels Calista's touch on him, and he turns to hear her words. He nods, briefly, though his eyes flash a few questions. Still, he returns his attention to Gael fallen and bloody at his feet. "You'll be just fine," he says and turns back to Calista. "Well, there go the rest of my birthday plans."

Upon finally, finally reaching the door, Keely casts a look around. No one she knows is within reach, within earshot in this madness. And so, after a moment of hesitation, she turns and slips out into the fog, whispering feverishly to herself as she tries desperately to find her way home, by herself, without witnessing any further traumatic events.

Arman has left the Seating for the Voices of House Velenosa.

Harlex's eyes widen, his face almost unrecognizable in surprise as he sees Berenice approach the beast. His hand tightens on his sword and he doubles his haste. The swarm of ghosts mere chaff to the chorus crying in his thoughts. He can see something in her that isn't there, isn't visible, and he attempts to close the distance through whatever is left of these imps. The mark beneath his gauntlet itching fervently all the sudden.

Raven has slaked the edge of her need to slaughter wholesale. Now, clearer eyed, she looks for those in need of help, those not defended or-in Gael's case-unable to defend herself. She cusses and strides towards Gael, "Can you move him to safety?" Normally she'd grab him with the hand not holding a sword but that arm is obviously not working right so she stands over Gael's prone form and dispatches anything that comes near.

It's an inhuman shriek of rage and pain, and then a sound of breaking glass, of giant mirrors being shattered inwardly. The great beast staring down at the archduchesses roars and shrieks in pain, and the few remaining imps in the room mirror him, tossing their heads back to scream. As the brief moment of paralysis allows the imps to be cut down, Malrico's form begins to tear apart- like fragments of glass beginning to fall away, broken pieces of him falling to the ground and turning to black ash that blows away even as he falls. He crumbles inwardly, and as he does, intense feelings of greed, of avarice, of desperate want for anything and everything spike uncontrollably for one unforgettable second... and then are gone. The imp corpses blacken and turn to dust, and where Malrico stood, there floats a black vortex that spins in the air... then vanishes.

The fog parts.

Calista is just as shocked when a man is throw at Macario's feet and she moves with him to check on the injured man. "Is he? Oh, not dead. Good." She says softly. Calista knows nothing about the man, but agrees he should be moved safely. "We need to get him healed."

There is a moment, where Auda's green eyes linger on Malrico, and she hefts her dagger as it to throw. It passes as the Velenosii descend, shifting to that black diamond, and then down to the imps. Down to the floor, to flaked off scale and lingering shadow. While fighting imps has to be the focus.. She does attempt to scoop up any bits of heraldric debris.

Sylvie stands where she is, rapier in hand, and looks towards the throne as she clenches her jaw through that spike of feeling.

You will be just fine. It but an echo and swirl of worded promise in the haze that is Gael's mind, the solidarity lost in this wasted and half-conscious man. Visibly, the whole of Gael quakes in writhing pain. His arms twist and stiffly bow by the elbows, spasms of heaving agony wracking through him as though seeking to break free from his confining motor nerves scattered through him. Breath rasping in and out, he stupidly mouths, "The High Inquisitor," in words that pour unintelligibly together amidst coughed spurts of blood. The feeling is clear, however: trepidation, and a sense of failure. As he searches for the figure, for Alistair, he sees Raven's blur. Fading, slow, slow...

Saoirse hurls her hands over her head and ducks as Malrico explodes - implodes - and all other things -plodes just as she reaches her cousins. She drops her father's hand in that moment and watches in some amount of horror, disbelief, as destruction reigns.

Esera's eyes close. She holds out her hand, and what is left of Malrico's darkness gathers at her fingertips. She draws in a deep breath, and her feet lift, ever so slightly, off the ground. She looks -- replenished. Imbued.

"Ahhhh," she breathes out, long, as her feet return to the ground, and her body to the throne behind her. She sits, imperious. "The shadow reign of Malrico Pravus has ended," she calls out to the audience gathered here. "The reign of the dead has begun."

An imp's head is crushed between the wolf-creature's jaws, dripping black blood and ash. The rest of the beast is painted the same now, black against white fur, though a not insignificant amount of dark crimson is seeping through as well. It stares at the gathered, teeth bared, yellow eyes baleful. There's a rumble in its throat that builds before it points its muzzle upward and howls. The sound is full of fury and grief. Maybe it's howling to the ghosts.

And then it springs forward, a shockingly fast and ground covering leap that clears the fighters and those they're protecting, brings it half smashing into one of the doors, and then through and out. The door itself is left swinging a little precariously on one hinge.

"There, there, you did it," Macario tells the mostly unconscious Gael. Another few calls for medic. To Calista, he nods. "He ran in there. I have no idea what happened. Just brutal." More calls for a medic.

Sylvie curtsies in one fluid, elegant motion to Esera as she speaks to the reign of the dead. She allows her rapier to fall from her finger tips, clattering on the ground, and she leaves it there as she sweeps out of the Velenosan doors, and returns to the Nox'alfar Embassy.

Raven checks strength at normal. Raven is successful.

Sylvie drops an elegant rapier.

Ian enters with the truly inspiring battle cry of: "What the fuck?" But that initial wave of confusion cycles quickly to calm, and then absolute serenity as his fast-moving eyes take in the surroundings. The tail ends (?) of the imps. The guy who just shattered (??) and turned to ash (?!). People who he's pretty sure were dead last he checked, and a couple who aren't dead but look like they ought to be, like the bloody smear that Gael has become. He closes distance between the door, where he started, and Raven, who he has picked out of the crowd. "You're going to explain this to me soon, right? A wolf the size of a horse just ran past me out there."

Cesare's expression turns to one almost of anguish, disgust. He clutches his stomach, looking a bit green around the gills, and exhales. As the vortex disappears, as Esera takes the throne, he stares at her. A tic in his jaw. There will always be a Herald of Avarice, after all. Nobody here knows if Malrico has been /ended/ - it seems unlikely, considering who and what he is. Cesare certainly doesn't know if Esera means Malrico's reign over the Lyceum, or - he stares, until he finally breaks the stare with a bow.

Alistair presses on up the throne as he orders his familiar back to watch over Gael and the others. This entire evening has been one where his two worlds collide, that of a Prince of Velenosa and the High Inquisitor. As Malrico falls apart into the nothing that he should be, Alistair lowers his blade as he looks over the aftermath at the throne, his eyes falling upon Isolde and what has been wrought with her at the center. Thomas gives watches those around Gael as they step forward to tend to the fallen Confessor, the animal Inquisitor giving a protective pat to the Confessor's shoulder.

Raven blinks and looks up owlishly. "Uhhhh..." She looks around then towards the broken door the wolfman bounced through, "Ummmm." She looks down at Gael, "Oh, fuckfuckfuck. I'm gonna have a shit fit if we can't get out of here." She wipes her sword off ON GAEL and sheathes it, stooping to pick Gael up, "Where's the archlector? ARCHLECTOR?! MEDIC!" She tries to bind Gael's wounds with bandages she has in her bag and then hefts up Gael with a soft grunt, "Are you kidding me? I come to you to get this shit explained. I have NO fucking clue what just happened-but you should know there's a lycanthrope lose in the city-BUT I think it's a friendly."

It takes a moment for Isolde to gather her bearings once the demon shatters, the light around her form dims as the power fades as if it never was. She glances down at her hands and then swivels to look at Esera, features brightening as she sees her sister rejuvenated. And then Carlotta and Eleyna. "I'm so glad you're here." Berenice is asked. "Are you okay?" Her voice breathy.

Monique stares at the place where Malrico has disappeared, her eyes fixated on the air as if somehow he might return. Her blade is held at her side in suddenly nerveless fingers. Want, need, they both wash over her. And something else, too. It's enough to drive the redhead to her knees, knock the breath out of her. Her hair forms a curtain around her head as it hangs low.

When Malrico ... vanishes ... there is a jolt that runs through Corban and he looks at Monique, his eyes wide, considering her. But he says nothing. He replaces his sword in its sheathe, the alaricite gleaming silver blade having done its deadly work well. He makes his way to his ex wife, to kneel next to her, to place a hand on her shoulder and be present for her in this moment.

In the aftermath, Genevra is victorious ... and out of breath. Sword still in hand, she and her guards look to the throne, to Esera that sits upon it, to Eleyna that stands at her side, Carlotta, Isolde, Berenice. Her spine straightens.

"I'm sorry, Princess Berenice," remarks Genevra smoothly. "It's always best if Archduchess Esera -not- contain herself."

On one hand, the sudden disintegration of Malrico and his little imp buddies brings a ragged sigh of relief from Dante, watching the giant wolf go charging out the doors with a weary grunt like that's just fairly a bit odd after everything else. Leaning on a bench and gripping the back solidly with his free hand, he pokes at the bleeding wound and then watches Esera. His dark brows lift. Oh, do they lift. "The reign of the dead?" Likely asked with a question lilt at the end for a bit of clarification. It's not exactly a normal statement.

Eleyna finally floats to the ground once more, looking rather replenished herself. She stands just off to Esera's side, looking over the crowd with an inscrutable expression on her face. Her eyes seek a few faces out in the crowd, particularly Genevra and Caprice, to make sure each have survived. Then, as Isolde speaks to her, her lips curve into a smile and she says with some degree of warmth, "It's over, Issy. It's finally over."

Gael is unconscious. He's breathing, certainly, but can no longer interact meaningfully with anything around him because of it. As Raven sweeps beneath him an arm, then moves to lift him up, it isn't his choice to make whether his burdensome carriage is brought aloft. And it is. But he is heavy. Horribly so. And long are his arms, and far-reaching his legs, in that they dangle by Raven's side quite nearly touching the ground, as though he were a kind of trophy animal now on the Blackheart's shoulder. From down his feet, down fingertips, blood nicely drips. Drop by drop. One nearly stains Ian's boot.

Nina standing up on the bench, is still looking around with shock at all the... things! happening. Her throwaway lute rightly shattered in the chaos, she puts her hand to her chest and... carefully, steps down to the floor, still breathing heavy even though she wasn't exerting herself personally. It's just a lot.

When the last bit of ash drifts off with the wind, Carlotta exhales, her feet returning to the ground beside Esera on the throne. She's vibrant, almost as she was in life, and the smile that curves at her lips is one of confidence and power. When she speaks over the din of the assembly hall, her voice casts to every corner, carrying out to the streets beyond through the broken windows. "The Choir of the Dead rules here. Let the new Archduchess make her case before us." And then she turns, her fingers brushing over Esera's shoulder before she vanishes, her body disappearing through the wall into the depths of the manor.

As Arman finds his way out, a path cleaved by Baldessare's blade, the Velenosan Prince finally turns his attention to his sister, among the other gathered female leaders of the Lyceum. Seeing she is fine, his attention moves to his comrade in arms, the man he fought shoulder to shoulder with this evening. "Let us get you some help," he says, offering a hand to Dante. "That needs to get cleaned up."

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