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The Mosgroves

  Camilla saw Ser Alfheim’s interjection before he could utter it, betrayed as he was by the certain quiver of his upper lip that caused his sandy blonde facial hair to bristle from the top of his mustache to the end of his neatly trimmed beard. In her mind’s eye, she saw him exclaim “A blind girl in a maze!” before launching into a tirade on how the noble lady must take precautions for her safety for what if she were lost in the labyrinth and never would a Mosgrove man let a lady of her status and on and on and on, so she silenced her husband with a look that sliced like Orisian steel. 

  Alistair, used to his mother’s manner of handling social situations without speaking a single word and his father’s temperament, drooped with relief. “I believe the maze would be interesting, as well,” he offered. Hope and an almost puppyish desire to help tinged his words with a touch optimism, one that put a sparkle back in Ser Alfheim’s hazel eyes. It was regained entirely when Lady Merida mentioned the tournament.

  “Al, in tournament!” The jest was in good humor, and even Camilla hid the light laughter of her smile behind her fan. Alistair rubbed the back of his neck with a crooked grin. “You know what the lad said to me when he was a wee little blighter? That he found bashing someone upside the head with a sword uninteresting. Told me what for while he was still waddling about in his swaddlers. Takes after his mother, that one. As for me, Lady, I may speak with the dulcimer tones of a handsome young knight—“ the joyous boast of his voice sank to a suave copy of a smooth suitor before he snorted out a laugh “—but I am too old to play fight over some magic sword. Besides,” he added with a wink and another slap to Alistair’s back, “no need for me to wipe out Andelusia’s supply of young warriors, am I right?”

  As his father spoke, Alistair’s shy glances drifted from the floor to Merida’s hand to his shined shoe to the glittering fabric of Merida’s skirt to the far eastern wall to Merida’s dainty bottom lip to the frescoes on the ceiling to a stray red hair. Camilla had noticed and fluttered her fan. Ser Alfheim had noticed and once more knocked the breath from his son’s lungs. His parents exchanged yet another wordless conversation, the messages their faces conveyed for them and them alone. 

  “Do allow us to accompany you to the beginning of the maze, my lady.” Camilla linked her arm with Merida’s, providing a gentle guidance unlike the stern hands of her governess. A melody stirred from the musicians, sounded by one swoop across the cello before a harp stirred sleepily beneath the airy sigh of flutes. “Though first, listen. Yhrua’s Dream, the beginning, anyways. It is a piece by Fiora Lejoix, one of Ursa Madeum’s first female composers. It is about lost love, a pretty song but a sad one. Do you hear the way the undercurrent of strings swell beneath the playfulness of the wind instruments, Lady Merida?”

  She tilted her head, hummed along with the violin and viola, and smiled. “Come, boys. Let us walk together to the labyrinth. Alistair, I expect for you to help her through it.”

@Witches Brew

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Carina had no destination in mind, only to get away, to put distance between herself and the throngs of people. The ballroom was packed with people. The grand room had fewer guests, but more chattering was going on in here. Carina wove through the crowd, slipping through gaps in the cluster of bodies, doing her best to tune out the noise. After a few moments, she stopped in her tracks, a jolt of anxiety running through her. Probably should make sure I don’t lose Seb again.

A few steps backward- she took his hand, clutching it tight, and continued onward.

At the eastern end of the grand room, two choices presented itself. There was a doorway leading outside- she could see the stars, hear the wind in that direction. Another doorway led to another room, one with less people and what seemed to be more chairs.

Chairs were good. The outdoors were better.

She hesitated, cocking her head towards the grand ballroom. "Whatever fuss there was back there has died down, I think."

All of a sudden, she seemed to realize her hand was still firmly clasped around Sebastian's. If it had been a few months ago, she would have immediately let go, but... a lot had happened since then. She took a moment to study him, the stiffness in his shoulders, the hesitation in his movements. She was better at observing ecosystems and locales than people, but- "Are you alright?" 

She let go of his hand. She wasn't entirely sure what it was they had. Maybe it was something borne of a mismatched pair - a warrior and a scientist, of all things - being made to rule a small city. Maybe it was comfort found in each others' company that had turned into something more. At any rate, she wasn't complaining - it was good to be, at the very least, less alone.

After a moment's silence, Carina changed the subject. "I think we'll have a better view of what happened down there, I think by the courtyard, if we go outside." She continued on towards the deck, into the night air. Leaning against the railway, she was given a decent view of the courtyard.

There didn't seem to be anything notable. A few guards, patrolling the area. Some guests. A tree. There was a man who looked rather... emperor-like. "Is that him?"


@danzilla3 @Ataraxy

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Merida could feel something swelling up inside Ser Mosgrove, just the tension in his belly to speak must have been enourmous alone. She wondered to herself what he wanted to say. Was it about perhaps that she was blind, and a blind girl going through a maze sounded a bit ridiculous? If that had been the case, she would have responded with, “A labyrinth itself is blind, it it not? Not knowing what twists and turns lay ahead is not just dark for me, but for others also. That may be my one advantage.” It sounded smart and sassy in her head, but also in her head she delivered it like she herself could be sassy.  She turned her head to acknowledge Alistair as he spoke, a soft smile on her face. Her soft pink lips parted slightly, but Alfheim found something even funnier to bring up. 

All that tension from earlier was gone, and she could feel Ser Alfheim’s voice slam against her as spoke of his son being a more of a poet than a knight. 

Merida smiled, and tilted her head to the side a bit. “Ah, he may not have a hankering for swords, but poets have their own b-battles to win all on their own.” She said, and she spinned her cane in her hands slightly, finding that if she kept it moving she could focus more on the conversation at hand. “W-whose to say, Alistair isn’t a knight in his own way?” She smiled softly, blush annoyingly creeping its way across her face. She brushed a piece of hair away that was tickling her nose, tucking the strand behind her ear. 

She laughed at Alfheim’s comment, shaking her head. She spoke more with the Mosgroves, feeling more comfortable the longer she talked to them. They were very nice people, and Merida liked them a lot. As she spoke, she moved her skirts with a flick of her hand, smoothing out the fabric. She didn’t know how it would fare in the maze, if the  glow of her dress would draw more bad attention than good, she wouldn’t know. She couldn’t help but think of Alistair also. She wondered if he would allow her to feel his face? If she mapped his face with her hands, maybe then she could get a clear picture on what he looked like. She couldn’t help imagining some sort of Romeo, with dashing looks and a smoldering smile that could make any maiden faint onto the nearest surface. However, her daydream died as Camilla Mosgrove gently took her arm, something The was definitely not used too. Evienne did a wonderful job, but if you looked closely, you could see the bruises just faintly under the powder her cousin applied. Her governess had tough hands for an old broad. 

“O-oh! Of course, thank you so much Mrs. Mosgrove.” She said, liking this woman more and more. They stopped briefly, and Camilla spoke of harps and the first woman composer in UM. She could hear the swell caused by the string instruments that the woman spoke of. She nodded, “I think so, yes Ma’am.” She giggled as Camilla called back to her husband and son, but couldn’t help but smile to herself as she heard Alistair was to help her through the maze. This was going to be very interesting. 




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Thomas was annoyed at the entire situation, being pulled from the party, from the drinks, from the food, from the beautiful dames and from the comfort of the great indoors, all so he could escort a middle-aged noblewoman back to Gold Harbor. Then, after that, he'd have get on one of those infernal ships again and sail out to Misral. What good was any of this for him?

"Illyana likely already has a head start, assuming she was actually able to make it on foot to the docks in time. Mia is still with the Mythals I believe, so she should still be safe, and Eric... Eric is not my problem. What Varda does with the boy now that his father is a criminal is none of my business." Looking to her chaperone, she was somewhat shocked she had spoken so much without even addressing him first. My apologies, Count Thomas, my mind has been very distracted. This entire turn of events has me at the point of hysteria."

Wait? What? Did she just call him Count Thomas? She thought he was a count? Whereas his cousin may have taken offense at being called by that rank, that title was considerably more lofty than what a mere lord like Thomas actually possessed. And did Lady Uldwar not just mention her daughters? That's right, House Uldwar had several daughters. Not to mention riches and prestige. And they thought he was a count.

"Life never turns out how we desire it to be, does it?"

"No, I suppose not." Thomas sat up straight and suddenly adopted the persona of someone with far more depth of character than he actually had, "But that's the thing in life isn't it? It is all in what we... make of it."

And off the carriage rode into the night, bound for the rocky shores of Gold Harbor...


Joseph Tynes noticed the subtle difficulty Lady Goldcourt seemed to have in maintaining her composition. It seemed that she had perhaps a little too much to drink already, though apparently not enough to completely overpower her senses. She still spoke as a person who was sober enough to know what they were trying to say.

"How do you like our fair islands thus far, Grand Executor? Is it very different from Norkotia?"

This was a wonderful question to be asked, as it gave him a segue to steer the conversation toward his own nation and and goals, including his hopes for how Ursa Madeum might factor into the future. But first, as with all new acquaintances, he had to set the stage, as it were.

"The islands are certainly very beautiful, your ladyship. In truth, you can find more natural color in just five minutes here than I ever had seen in my youth in Norkotia. Alas, I fear the humidity does not agree with me as well as the sights do." he spoke with a bit of a laugh at the end, "But yes, it is quite different. If the weather in Norkotia at the time of my departure was any indication, it is likely buried in two feet of snow by now. By this time next month, I suspect it will be cold enough to give you frostbite after just five minutes outdoors."

And that was no joke, given the already frigid Norkotian winters had only been made more so by the encroachment of the Shawnee Glacier into the wastelands. Though the height of the summer had still been fairly warm, it did not last as long as it did in years past, and the winter had come far too early. If Tynes did not already have enough reasons to believe magic was a threat to civilization, the Loci causing climate change was the last straw.

"Still, climate aside, I think we also have a great deal in common, and I think those things are things we can build upon." he continued, even as Iyalon left Varda's side in the background, "We already have trade agreements with several houses, and some of our businesses may be opening branch offices in Gold Harbor and even Andelusia in the coming months."

@LikelyMissFortune @vielle


Edited by Tyler

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Aveline seems to be suddenly very ignored by everybody else. As far as she's concerned, it's one of the more preferable states for social engagements.

As Aveline makes her way through the dessert table, in much the same way Teresa did, but a lone thought enters her brain: "I'm bored."

Yes, Aveline finds just walking around and being ignored by everybody quite dull.

"Wait a minute, didn't I put something somewhere in my truck for just such a situation?" Aveline thinks as she walks out of the castle and back to her pickup. Vivian and Nadia are hiding underneath it.

"Oh good, thought I'd need to track ya down," Aveline says as she opens a door and starts digging. Under the back seats, among the emergency candles, retort pouch food, scraper, folding shovel, road flares, and kitty litter is a cardboard box that has "in case of boredom" written on it: right next to the "RPG emergency" box. Aveline pulls it out and opens the flaps. Inside are Blueprints, Machi Koro Bright Lights Big City, Joking Hazard, and Ticket to Ride, outside of their original packaging to make them more compact. Of course, she pulls the whole box out, closes and locks her truck (making sure she has her keys before doing so), then leads Vivian and Nadia back to the castle. If nobody else wants to play, she at least has them.

Edited by notmuch_23
speeling errorrz

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Things seemed to have calmed down a bit, at least for the moment, and Grant allowed himself to relax as the conversation went on around him. After the sudden jolt of adrenaline that had flooded his system, some polite conversation was just the thing to soothe his nerves. Then he heard a commotion coming toward him and looked over to see Issac Graham and a woman approaching him. He smiled and greeted the alchemist before the woman addressed him.

"Oho! Now I remember! Lord Grant from Senaria. It was a pleasure doing business with you. Let's do another cleaning work sometime in the future."

Grant nodded, "A pleasure to see you again Mrs. Linda. There is still much work to be done, so I would welcome your assistance in the future."


When the princess began to choke on her food, Som was a bit worried about her, but didn't know whether or not he should help. Eventually she seemed to get it all down, though he could tell that it had been a great effort, as her face had turned completely red. If she hadn't begun speaking, he probably would have attempted to help, but it seemed she was okay. Then she started talking about Port Sun.

"I haven't had the time to visit yet, but I hear it's nice."


"Are you alright?" 

Sebastian sighed, "I just.. I don't want to screw this- this thing we have- up. Being with you makes me happy; but I'm not nearly as good with relationships as I am with a blade, and I keep expecting myself to screw up."

The swordsman followed his lover outside, and stood with her in the cool night air. When she spoke, he looked down and saw Emperor Titus in the courtyard.

"That's him alright. I should greet him... but I can wait until he comes inside. Let's stay here a bit longer."

@Csl @Ataraxy @Thotification

Edited by danzilla3

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PgEKC4W.png"I'm so sorry Milorian," her sincerity was not lost in the ruffled fabric of the handkerchief. "I don't know what happened."

"Well, you said I could burn it once we are done here, so more of a reason to do so."

The elf pulled her hand back to take a peek at her dripping nose, wondering if perhaps during their dance he had accidentally knicked it. It wasn't his choice to dance; he would have preferred just to continue to be an observer. Foolishly he had forgotten who his partner is for the night; she had dragged him to the dance floor and so as she led him into the dance without discussing the process first. 

"But you look so handsome!"

"Now I look like a murder scene," he pointed to the ruin that's his shirt. He looked like some sort of canvas where the artist was feeling a bit spiteful and just threw red paint all over it. 

"Thankfully it appears to be a random bloody nose and nothing more."

He patted her hand, prompting it to press the handkerchief against her still bleeding nose. The way the blood is still pouring from her small nose made him feel a little uncomfortable; with no apparent signs of damage, he was confident in his minor evaluation that it was a random event might be caused by the differences in the air? He guessed, silently. He sees no clear sign that her health is deteriorating, she still glowed radiantly in all her splendor; her hair was a mess, her cheeks were pink from their dance, and he could see the creases of her smile behind the palm of her hand. Milo knew if she weren't feeling well, Primera would keep tightlipped about it.

All around them the people continued to dance and converse, only taking a few seconds out of their time to glance at the pair. There wasn't much chance to hide away and to be honest; he had panicked ever so slightly when Primera drenched him in her blood that he had just acted without thinking. 

"Well, fancy seeing them here."

She grabbed at his arm, but he had already set his attention towards the pair that's pushed themselves into the fray. Milorian has never been given the opportunity to meet the previous Emporer of Kadia, but he has a feeling that the current will be suitable enough to make acquaintance. Tacked onto the young man's arm is his mother, and he only knows that by the connection between her and Primera. Gods are not unusual happenings in the world of Valucre, you can see them just about anywhere nowadays, yet he felt his stomach tighten at the sight of Leoa. Something like revulsion tickled his nerves, causing him to shiver.

"You think they'll notice us?"

"... How could they not?"

Again, his hand swept across his shirt and then over her face, both brightly colored and a complete mess. In response, she pointed to her eyes that have lost their sight months ago, but she felt the small breeze of his gesture and the sound of his sleeve shifting to give him a saucy reply. 

So unlike him, Milo loudly laughed. "You're a brat."

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"Excuse my terrible manners, Kaare," she said with just a hint of laughter peppering her apology. 

Looking the part, one must also act it, and she had made a tumble in her lack of proper salutation. So used to giving demands and taking them with stride, pleasantries such as these are often placed on the backburner while duty stands at the forefront. She had forgotten that she could be soft and well manners, even enjoyable to be around once the burdens of her position are stripped away. Beneath the ridged curve of her stubborn jaw and the constant perk to one eyebrow, the elf is a woman who can enjoy the simpler things. 

Like wine while enjoying the company of a rather endearing stranger.

"Delphine," just put. He hadn't introduced her to his titles and heritage, prompting her to withhold her place in this grand event. 

Curious eyes wandered over her bare shoulder, catching the silhouettes of her Lord and the Kommadant still entertaining themselves with the sweets. The Emporer of Kadia will approach the pair, leaving Delphine to remain far away until she is needed to intervene. Only minorly educated in the events that surrounded the Emporer Connor, she is confident in her choice leaving them all to their conversations. Just a thimble of his accomplishments had moved her to broaden the horizon of her education of Valucre and its many kingdoms. Being able to put all that to use shows that it pays to read at least a little about the goings on that make this world so special and unique.

Withdrawing from duty, she returns her attention Kaare as they swim through the waves of bodies and conversations. 

"I've not dipped my toes in the ponds of upper-crust revelry in a very long time - I'm a fish out of water here."

The Free Marches have its celebrations when holidays are concerned, and this one, in particular, is not universal. Thus she had refrained from offering her partner a joyous reverie. Lying is not her forte, nor is trying to fit in unnecessarily to be molded into an acceptable piece to this societies puzzle. It just wouldn't have felt right or genuine, even though it may have appeared rude when she had merely smiled in response. Kaare hadn't reacted negatively, having offered to guide her towards the drinks and even extending his arm for her to hang upon, he acted in a dignified manner. 

Luck may have forced him in her path. In a position of protector, she is supposed to act with the airs of a belligerent, forthcoming creature meant to push aside all disruptive nuisances. Sadly, her hold upon her partner's arm was like a vice, and her bottom lip is snagged between her teeth - too many people with too many feelings. 

"Are you from these parts Kaare?" she asked breathlessly. 

Borish, she may be, Delphine is not a slow learner. Her recent misstep was taken with stride; according to some book of manners, it is only right to get to know a stranger, especially one considered kind. It would also keep her distracted from gathering too many emotions from all these glamourized strangers. On that thought, it would have been smart to wear gloves.

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k2axoLr.pngHe offered his mother a smile. “Well, were we Melisendes ever normal to begin with?” He asked, offering her a cheeky wink. It was true, out of all those who fought beside him, he had been the one to walk away with few wounds. Though the scars that lay upon the soul were an entirely different matter. He attributed a great deal of his safe return not on his skill, as considerable as it was, but on his siblings and loyal citizens. “I am my father’s son, after all.” He said, with a hint of pride in his teasing words.

It was true, out of all his sibling he was by far the most spoiled, even more so than his eldest brother. It was thanks to his siblings that he was able to adequately deal with the pressures that had been saddled on him. Now that he was older, wiser, and more experienced with ruling he could stand on his own. It was a shock to them when he immediately set about coming to the Veluriyam Empire so soon after the Harrowing. The liked it even less not knowing what his plans were.

“Ah yes, well let us hope that’s his only title. I’ve heard there are some who like to state them all in one conversation.” He said with a chuckle. He seemed far too relaxed for what appeared to be a political function. Well at least for him anyway. Indeed he seemed to treat it more like a game. “I’ll be certain to employ my manners and offer due courtesy once we meet.” He said, assuring his mother not to overly worry.

He was certainly headstrong.

“I’m certain he does.” He agreed, though he would rather set his plans in motion sooner. Though his mother did have a point, it would paint a particularly desperate picture if he were to approach Titus first. “I suppose you’re right.” He said, shrugging his shoulders. Though he was sure his reasoning for waiting was far from similar to his mother’s. Either way waiting a bit more wouldn’t interfere too much. He set the thoughts aside and looked about the room.

“Not all of us are alloted infinity, Mother.” He said, his eyes landing on Primera and Milorian. “Aha, look who it is, Mother.” He said, his eyes meeting Primera’s. “Shall we go and see how my sister-in-law is faring? Perhaps get some news on Ezio in the process.” He considered out loud. He then led his mother through the crowd, soldiers once more taking formation around the. “Oh dear, what’s this?” He asked, gesturing to Primera’s bloody nose and the evidence it left of Milorian’s shirt.


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‘I wonder what’s going on outside.’ Roen drawled in his mellifluous voice. 

He was standing near another bookshelf, hand raised and fingers touching the spine of another of the Emperor’s books. Fingering the engraved lettering of the title, the Outsider indulged in a wry smile. The book was called The Life and Times of Roen, The Lord of the Black City or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Demagogue. It was a recent addition to the library, and if asked, Roen would say he had no mortal idea how it had gotten there, but would of course remark on the biography’s veracity and authenticity, if not the actual educational value itself. Taking his hand away from the book and his attentions away from performing anymore acts of petty mischief, Roen leveled the weight of his scrutiny on Irene Gabriela Du’Grace, the one and (thankfully) only reason he had decided to make an appearance tonight. 

The wry smile on his face, once so full of mockery and disdain, softened when it fell on the Queen of Orisia. In spite of their respective differences and her penchant to unnerve and disquiet him with her cold exterior, she was nonetheless the sum of all his worldly ambitions and desires, and so was beloved to his eye. When he smiled at her, it was with a warmth not generally felt by his maudlin heart, and that was something in and of itself profound. Roen was not prone to smiles, nor was his face made to carry the weight of them. More suited to brooding and fury was the Outsider’s countenance, so lined by the cares of worry and sorrow. Even now, moments after conception, his smile was a stillborn thing, withering and eventually discarded. ‘These sort of soirées usually end badly,’ the Outsider said. “One day soon, I think no one will ever bother to come.’

Roen sighed then, low and mournful, as he approached Irene. His hands tugged at his cuffs, righting them. In a fit of nostalgia and high-praise for his beloved, he had forgone the tried and true colors of the Black City, the red and white and black, and bedecked himself instead in the colors of Orisia, changing out the red for a muted-gold trim along his waistcoat. Subtle, discrete, but symbolic in the ways other things weren’t, he still cut a fine if undignified figure with his beard and loosely tied hair. In terms of ostentation and ornamentation, he carried only two items, his only concessions to his place atop the hierarchy of this world: one being his ring, a platinum band that circled the middle finger of his right hand which depicted a dragon wrapped around a pawn cast in an ivory bas-relief at its center. The second was Hræðilegr, or World Splitter in the common tongue. 

Typically worn as a ribbon around his hand or through his hair, the Outsider had it instead at his side and belted to his hip, his right hand resting on the curved pommel of the insidious blade. The twin-faces of the daemons at the hilt bared their fangs in impotent fury, while their eyes glowed with the baleful inner-light of the grisly gems socketed therein. Roen stroked the many-eyes along the hilt with the swipe of his calloused thumb, and hummed at Irene a more proper greeting, low and smooth and full of the pleasure he took from being so near to her. Extending his free hand, the Outsider reached out and touched his beloved’s fingers with his, delighting still more at her iciness, and clasped them. With all the gentlemanly flavor he could court, the Lord of the Black City raised those dainty fingers higher, and keeping his eyes on Irene, brushed her knuckles with his lips. She smelled clean, with the vaguest hint of orange-blossom oil on the inside of her wrist. He resisted the urge to lick her just to taste, and lowered her hand. 

‘Thank you for the notes you left aboard the Everlinde,’ he told her with genuine gladness. ‘They were very informative.' He let go of her hand, slowly. ‘Why are we here, Gabriela?’ He asks, canting his head to one side, like a beast come to heel, observing its master. ‘I see you’re here, alone. Has somebody offended you?” Roen raised his eyebrows at this, his gaze wandering away, his ruby-gaze somewhat predatory. ‘Do you want me to hurt someone for you?’ 

Edited by Roen

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The shadow of movement, on her periphery makes her pause and all but glue her gaze onto the Grand Executors. There was something of the way Lord Protector sweept into whisper into the Lady's ear, a touch too close, a little too informal to be just a gesture between Lady and Servant. 

It was something to be noted, squirreled away, used for later.

For now, however, she focused all of her attention onto the Grand Executor, if only a little guiltily for the momentary lapse of it. "...I fear the humidity does not agree with me as well as the sights do." 

She laughed along with him at this, her hands languidly resting on the thick rope of hair snaking down one shoulder, "Oh! That is a wicked curse, Grand Executor, a veritable one and our constant companion! We forgive it only for the color it bestows upon us!"

"But yes, it is quite different. If the weather in Norkotia at the time of my departure was any indication, it is likely buried in two feet of snow by now. By this time next month, I suspect it will be cold enough to give you frostbite after just five minutes outdoors."

Evienne looked aghast at this, and almost involuntary sip of her drink. Saying she didn't like the cold would be a gross understatemtn, should the temperature drop anything below warm, she'd be wrapped in a coat, huddled over a fire and complaining bitterly of it. She couldn't imagine being so cold as for it cause frostbite in minutes. She hoped it would never be so cold in Ursa Madeum, her discomfiture aside, it would spell disaster for her clothes; delicate, gauzy clothes had no pace in the land of the cold. "Do you quite miss Norkortia? I couldn't imagine how garish we are compared to your homeland, Winter can, I've heard, create a wonderful, muted elegance? I would quite like to see that."

That bothered her, had ever since she started producing skirts of silk so light it danced on the wind, namely, how would they survive Winter?

It was a problem that needed a fix, perhaps not for now. But, as she clutched at the glittering array of snowflakes and winter flowers sewn onto her clothes, she wondered how long it would be until it was needed. "Perhaps, not dressed like this, I doubt I'd ever last five minutes in such a clime!"

"We already have trade agreements with several houses, and some of our businesses may be opening branch offices in Gold Harbor and even Andelusia in the coming months."

"That is quite wonderful Grand Executor, wonderful indeed!" She trilled, smoothing her dress over. "Congratulations are in order, I'm sure you'll find our markets lucrative indeed." She scanned the vast room for any passing servants, and having found one ambling around with a tray full of sparkling, golden beverage, she waved him over. "It has been kind to me, I've recently started to revitalize 'Dali Designs'. It's taken quite a bit of work, but the people are quite receptive of change- anything that is new, and wonderful--" She placed her glass, empty now, onto the tray- and offers them with a smile, and dainty, grand gestures to Lady Varda and the Grand Executor.

"There's a good Lad, thank you. The champagne here is excellent! And appropriate to toast your success and health."

@vielle @Tyler

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Aveline brings the "emergency boredom kit" back into the castle, with Vivian and Nadia following, all the way to an empty table in the Sun room.

"So... Blueprints, Machi Koro, or-"

Vivian and Nadia grab two of the Machi Koro decks and start shuffling them. Aveline shrugs and passes out the starter cards and one of each landmark.

Well, even if nobody joins them, it's far better than exchanging pleasentries and platitudes with a bunch of spoiled people. Just in case somebody else does wants to jump in, Aveline makes stacks of starter cards and landmarks.

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Having made herself at home, and with every intention of camping out in the library for the remainder of the ball, Gabriela had pulled a small collection of books into an awaiting arm. So far, cradled lovingly to her chest, was Before Us: The Tales of Those Who Built Terrenus, A History of the Last True Temple to Gaia, and Songs of the Phoenix: A Book of Poems. But a fourth book had captured her interest, and had all but ensnared her. She had stopped right there where she wandered, and flipped open through the dusty pages with the dexterous fingers of her unburdened hand. The book’s cover read Abyss of Kings, and within was a detailed chronological history of the monarchs of Terrenus who had fallen, surrendered, or been seduced into wickedness. She half expected to find the devil’s name there but wondered if the book was perhaps too old and in need of a new edition, or if somehow, Roen simply did not constitute what the Terrenian government would consider a true monarch of the land.


There were so many questions that she had never bothered to ask, and that it truth, she had never even been curious about. For example -- what manner of king was the devil? Was he true royalty, was he conqueror...did it matter when you were a being of infernal breeding? But he wasn’t. Not really. Or was he? She knew his secret, and as more people saw and met their small son, so too would the rest of the world -- and what would happen then.


She had paused her reading to wonder, but had never taken her eyes off of the written letters -- the appearance that she was deeply invested in her reading was held up with every intention to dissuade anyone from pursuing conversation with her. And yet she felt the weight of his presence before she heard his voice, and for the first time in a long time, she did not immediately recognize him. It wasn’t often that he had the opportunity to catch her so off guard -- lost in her thoughts, even among a crowd, with her brows pinched in that way that denoted a troubled mind while the rest of her body leaned so easily to one side draped so elegantly in her fine clothes. The devil might have a passing thought then, just a brief moment of appreciation -- Gabriela belonged in a place like this. She was a quiet, isolated pool of water in the middle of a great current of activity. Here with the books and the silence, Gabriela was framed by the distant sound of music and chatter, and it suited her.


“I wonder what’s going on outside.”


Her book snapped shut and she sucked in a breath between her teeth -- nearly an inverted hiss. Golden eyes focused intently on the devil, her Lord and Master, and glared. There was a look the devil had not seen in quite some time. She was angry, she was surprised, but more importantly, she was genuinely afraid -- or rather, startled. His dying smile only made her that much more upset. He seemed pleased with himself for pulling such a rotten stunt.


“These sort of soirées usually end badly. One day soon, I think no one will ever bother to come.”


“If that’s the case, then I can expect your tragic lack of attendance to our son’s christening?” It was a mean things to say and a bad way to reveal that she was, at the very least, back to thinking about throwing an event for Orisia. She didn’t want to imagine how it might look if she revealed herself to have been thinking about this too much in advance, at least not without his prior consent, but at the very least Roen might be pleased to see a spark of his old beloved still burning in the slowly dying embers of what was left of her.


She wanted to throw a party, what harm could there be in that? The thought made her immediately grow dim and quiet. Orisia’s had once carried a proud and wonderful reputation for events -- none could rival the celebrations that the Summer Isles hosted, but those days were gone. Anything and everything that the Black Queen touched ended in turmoil and violence, including her last great accomplishment, which was being kidnapped from her own coronation.


That had been the last straw for all of them -- for Malice, for Raphael, for Roen, for every last friend and foe. She wasn’t fit to rule, not Orisia, not her own home, not even herself. She withered under the callousness of her own memories and critical mind. Roen, in this short time, had drawn closer and was now standing nearly toe to toe with her. With her gaze cast downward, she noted the intricate pommel of Hamburger, and the devil’s possessive clutch around it. It was a sight she had not seen in ages. With a frown she glanced up into his face, just as he stole away her book on fallen kings and captured her fingers for a kiss upon her knuckles.


“Why are we here, Gabriela?”


“Isn’t it obvious?” she asked, quietly. The question once more came to mind -- what kind of a king was Roen? She studied him as he turned his head away, as his beautiful but monstrous features took to searching beyond the open doors and windows that lead into the library at the happy and cheerful people beyond.  


“I see you’re here, alone. Has somebody offended you? Do you want me to hurt someone for you.”


Her lips fell open just about the width of a hair. It was surprise that fueled the gesture, and it was an urge to command herself that caused her to immediately clench her jaw. The sheer ridiculousness of the question felt like a slap to the face -- was he kidding or was he serious? Her eyes dove down to the narrow space that separates them and once again she saw his fingers upon the pommel of his weapon.


No, this was no joke.


“Are you drunk?” she asked, this time she hissed. Her newly freed hand was on his, pulling it off of his weapon. “No -- I have not been offended. I am here because I chose to be. I’ve never come to one of these things as a simple guest.”


If looks could kill. She was glaring at him with golden edge daggers.


“We were invited, Roen. You said you didn’t want to come, so I came. You told me this was my job -- to make them love you. Well it's going to take work, a lot of work, Roen, it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work to make anyone love you. And you know,” she was flustered now, she had to back away, talking about love to Roen always made her a little anxious, a little warm cheeked, she needed space -- so she stepped back, escaped from the warmth of his proximity, “--this is how it starts, this is how you work on it. You go to these types of things. You show up when you’re invited, and then you get invited to more things, and then you go to even more stuff. And you're gracious, and you're polite, and you mingle and chat even though it is tedious and annoying!” There were a few tables littering the room, tasteful pieces of furniture with chairs and lamps, places to set books down and read. This is where she left her books before turning back to the devil, before pointing a finger at him, “But you most certainly don’t just appear out of nowhere, totally unannounced in another man's home, wearing a massive sword and fingering the pommel like you’re ready to draw at the drop of the first rude word thrown in your direction, because...unfortunately, there are likely to be, many rude words thrown in your direction.”


Slowly, Gabriela deflated, her one bare shoulder dropped and sank completely until it fell soft and round and curved inward as her arms crossed under her breasts.


“You have to help me help you.”

Edited by Pasion Pasiva

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For all the confidence Annette currently lacks, Ina continues onward. Crossing the barriers of fear with the intimacy of conversation with little more than a pleasant smile. “We would like to purchase a small bit of property in Senaria. I’ve heard they’re currently building the city and land back to its proper status. And in purchasing it we hope to further their endeavors at strengthening their economy by way of pastries. Mrs. De’Laire is much more knowledgeable with her wares than I myself, so I will let her fully explain the position in which she seeks your acquaintance.”

There is a momentary of exchange courage, the squeeze of Ina’s hand against Annette’s to usher the woman forward. And with little to further set her on her path her hands slips from the younger woman’s so that she might sway them while she speaks. A family habit of talking with the assistance of gesturing.

“Well, You Highness. My husband and I run an orchard and berry farm on the lands of Hildebrand. We’ve always made some different pastries to sell at market, but lately with the growth in trade and our abundant produce we;ve been able to take that small stand and open up a shop on our lands. We’ve also made connections across Valucre and,” The adjustment of a wrist as the fingers of her left hand turn to indicate Ina, “a corporation in Renevatio working on a very large future project. We’ll be providing a variety of wares for them to sell to their customers.”

While Annette continues speaking, Ina slowly backs away. Merely to take a gaze about the lengthy desert table. Admiring the dainty way in which many of the ladies and even gentlemen partake of their delectables. Whether with specialty silver or the very tips of their fingers, the sweetness diluted by their tongues not only brings a smile to different conversations but a foundation on which some of them may speak.

Annette’s words are carefully heard whilst Ina admires the other, her being on the premises only for support of the woman beside her. “You see, we make different pies, and scones, and cakes, and turnovers. Multiple things. All made by hand with the freshest ingredients the farms of House Hildebrand have to offer, and we would like to share them with the people of Senaria as well.”


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Enduring beneath the weight of Irene’s vitriol, Roen frowned and reseat his hand on the pommel of World Splitter. Urbane, gentlemanly to a fault, he listened with unabashed patience while his chosen threw spite, judgement and wisdom into his teeth, and duly considered the weight of her recriminations as well as her advice, heavy-handed though it was. It could never be said Roen never listened to his beloved, waspish though she could be at time. It was she and she alone in this living world that had the Outsider’s ear, and when she spoke, though many could turn deaf to her words, Roen never did. Still, that did not mean he delighted in them. Quite the contrary, he found his mood souring and his temper rising at Irene’s provocations. 

Sliding the calloused pad of his thumb along the inseam of the curved pommel, the Outsider teased the edge, threatening to cut himself on the crude instrument used for gaffing, while his head turned, watching the Queen of Orisia move, appearing to him as if she were unable to sit still, much like a nervous daughter might be anxious when laying petulant arguments at her father’s feet. He indulged her, but only so far. Things came to a head when she dared point a finger at him in a vain attempt to reverse their roles. While he enjoyed the renewed flare of her vigor and flame, he had not anticipated the heat to be directed at him. Taking a slow, threatening step towards Irene, Roen raised his free hand and firmly albeit gently lowered her accusatory point, unwilling and unable to suffer such an obscene gesture. 

He could have told her the truth, of course. He could have made a counter-argument concerning nearly a decade of co-mingling with his peers, of wearing the mask of the Gentleman Sage and being unfailingly gracious and polite with those he chose to be personable with. He could have mentioned any number of events he had journeyed to sans weapon, only to be ridiculed and spurned, and even attacked on occasion. But the strength of that debate was more than he currently had in excess of, and that strength was reserved for other, more arduous conversations. Drawing nearer, backing Queen Irene against one of the many bookshelves in the Emperor’s library, Roen reached out as if to touch his chosen’s cheek -- but instead went for her throat. Grabbing her by the slender column, Roen squeezed and shoved her against books and shelving alike by the neck, setting the shelf to rock on its legs. 

‘Then there will be much bloodshed, my love.’ Roen spoke lowly, incensed. 

Grinding her into the shelving briefly, the Outsider used the push to withdraw and let her go, leaving only the impression of his fingers gouged into her alabaster skin. He lowered his hand, fingering the ring on his middle finger in a fidgeting gesture. ‘An armed society is a polite society, Gabriela.’ He said, licking the lips of his thin, sensual mouth. He looked at her, his gaze half-lidded, his eyes calm. ‘This weapon is just a piece of metal, twisted into a useful shape. Tonight, I hope it will be useful as a deterrent. The last time I mingled unarmed, I nearly killed Corvinis’s kin with my bare hands for the insults he paid you and I. In a similar vein, I went to Kadia unarmed, looking for answers about the man who nearly killed you.’ 

Roen blinked. ‘Corvinis attacked me in his gardens, and I took his eyes and ears to repay the insult.’ 

Tilting his head, Roen indicated World Splitter. “It is not the twisted metal that should be feared, but me, yet they are too ignorant to make those distinctions. I’ve been too polite, too gracious, and that gives many leave to be rude when they should otherwise be kind. Perhaps in seeing this ugly thing, they will be inspired to be cordial.’ He hummed them, somewhat heartened by his own convoluted logic and reasoning. He favored Gabriela with a rueful smile. ‘In this way, I am helping you, beloved. I’m sure you’ll make them all love me as much as you do.’ And then he laughed, both low and smooth and undeniably unhappy. No one knew better than he the poison of love that perpetuated itself between he and the Orisian Queen, but he did not lament. Broken and bitter though it was, it was still undeniably love, and for that it was precious beyond worth. 

‘Or you will fail, and I will content myself with their hate and distrust.’ He rolled his shoulders at this, nonplussed. A pause, then..

‘Should we mingle, or do you want to stay here, and read me poetry?’ He asks, glancing towards the books she had laid down. His lips curved, the broken pieces of his smile knitting back together again. His carelessness concerning those on the outside was incomparable this evening, but his enjoyment of Irene’s company, as ever, seemed absolute. He could have been satisfied this evening if they stayed together in isolation, reading separately or to one another. Ambivalent towards the world was the Outsider in his darker moods, but his obsession with the foreign beauty he accosted and flirted with in equal parts was never uncertain. 

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